By Duncan Haughey, PMP
Blackboard with the SMART Goal definition written on it

Once you have planned your project, turn your attention to developing several goals that will enable you to be successful. Goals should be SMART - specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.

A goal might be to hold a weekly project meeting with the key members of your team or to organise and run a continuous test programme throughout the project.

The acronym SMART has a number of slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting:

S - specific, significant, stretching

M - measurable, meaningful, motivational

A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

This provides a broader definition that will help you to be successful in both your business and personal life.

When you next run a project take a moment to consider whether your goals are SMART goals.

To quote renowned American philanthropist Elbert Hubbard:

"Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal."



  • Well defined.
  • Clear to anyone that has a basic knowledge of the project.


  • Know if the goal is obtainable and how far away completion is.
  • Know when it has been achieved.

Agreed Upon

  • Agreement with all the stakeholders what the goals should be.


  • Within the availability of resources, knowledge and time.


  • Enough time to achieve the goal.
  • Not too much time, which can affect project performance.

Word Icon Download our free SMARTER Goals template

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Comments (4)

Topic: SMART Goals
5/5 (5)
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Mohammad (Beirut) says...
I think all our goals and objectives must be set in accordance with SMART. However, it is more important to think of practical tools for implementation, follow-up and review to give useful feedback that touches the set and planned objectives or goals.
4th November 2014 10:47am
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Peter Ridgway-Davies (Stafford) says...
The time-bound description is perfect for Agile projects using sprints and time-boxes.
23rd June 2014 2:20pm
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Ken Butcher says...
Maybe it's a difference between British and American English, but "time-bound" doesn't sound right to me. For me, that would mean that someone had tied it up (bound it) in ties made of time. ("Bound" being the irregular past participle of "to bind".)

I would have used "bounded", the past participle of the regular transitive verb "to bound" something, meaning to set bounds or boundaries on it.

(My wife suggested that something "time-bound" might be on a journey towards time.)

Otherwise, very useful stuff, and much appreciated.
27th May 2014 8:48pm
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Duncan Haughey (London) says...
I've always read "time-bound" as tied to a specific time period, not open ended. Perhaps "time-based" is better.

I prefer "timely", because it adds a sense of urgency to achieving your goals.
27th May 2014 10:23pm

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Belbin's theory proposes that teams with a balance of team-roles perform better than those where there is an imbalance of roles.


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