SMART goals for project managers | What are the 5 smart goals?

SMART goals for project managers | What are the 5 smart goals?

Have you ever thought that you have been working hard but you are not achieving results as per your expectations? Perhaps you struggle to see how you’ll fulfill your ambitions during the next few years. If you have such problem with you, it means you may have your plan but do not have smart goal. What are smart goals for managers give an example? What are some examples of smart goals? What is the goal of a project manager? Even what are smart goals for project engineer? You may have many questions in mind. You can say that you have set your goals as well but do you think it is smart enough and created with the help of smart methods of goal setting?

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” —Bill Copeland

You may get a question now, what is SMART goal? By the end of this blog post, you will know the smart goal definition.

Definition of Smart Goal

There are many people in the world who are spending their lives drifting from one job to another or aimlessly trying to get more results but actually accomplishing very little. Setting SMART goals means that you have very clear about your ideas, you have focus on the efforts needed; you know required resources and time. You are using these conditions productively and increasing your chance to achieve what you really need.

Also Read : Responsibilities of Project Manager

To quote renowned American philosopher and writer Elbert Hubbard:

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” – Elbert Hubbard


SMART acronym

SMART is an acronym that you can use to guide your goal setting. The first time known use of this term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. Thereafter, Professor Robert S. Rubin (Saint Louis University) wrote about SMART in an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The paper discussed objectives and how difficult, yet critical, it is to set them. He created SMART to help guide managers in their objective setting process.

It is very important that the criteria of goals should be simple but more productive. It helps team to be more productive and ensure them to keep goals in mind. Always remember:


“If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.” —Les Brown

He also stated that SMART has come to mean different things to different people. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

How to write smart goal

Smart goal writing is an important step you need to follow before moving to any action. There may be various ways for smart goal writing but this is very sure that you will need smart goal template or any smart goal format as per your need. Smart goal setting worksheet is also helpful while writing your goals but there is no standard smart goal template or worksheet. You just need to ensure, writing smart goal statement should cover SMART acronym. The process starts with asking a lot of questions. Read this blog post further to know more about it.

“It’s important to set your own goals and work hard to achieve them.” —Yuichiro Miura

SMART Goal Examples

As mentioned that goals should be SMART goals that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound.


Goal should be very simple and easy to understand. A good goal statement explains the what, why, who, where and when of a goal. If your goal statement is vague, you will find it hard to achieve because it will be difficult to define success.


Imagine that you are currently a PMO executive, and you’d like to become head of Project Management Office (PMO). A specific goal could be, “I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become head of PMO within my organization, so that I can build my career and lead a successful team.”


Goals should be traceable means you should be able to track progress and measure the result of your goal. A good goal statement answers the question, how much or how many. How will I know when I have achieved my goal?


You might measure your goal of acquiring the skills to become head of PMO by determining that you will have completed the necessary training courses and gained the relevant experience within five years’ time.



Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. Your goal should be stretching you, but realistic and relevant to you and your company. Make sure the actions you need to take to achieve your goal are things within your control. You can identify your previously achieved opportunities or resources than can bring you closer to this goal. It should answer the question, how can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints?


You might need to ask yourself whether developing the skills required to become head of PMO is realistic, based on your existing experience and qualifications. For example, do you have the time to complete the required training effectively? Are the necessary resources available to you? Can you afford to do it?


It ensures that your goals matters to you. We all need support and assistance in achieving your goals. But make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you’re still responsible for achieving your own goal. “Yes” answer of following questions will let you know if your goal is relevant.

  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  • Is it applicable in the current socioeconomic environment?


You might want to gain the skills to become head of Project Management Office (PMO) within your organization, but is it the right time to undertake the required training, or work toward additional qualifications? Are you sure that you’re the right person for the head of PMO role? Have you considered your spouse’s goals? For example, if you want to start a family, would completing training in your free time make this more difficult?

Time Bound

Goals must have a deadline. A good goal statement will answer the question, when will you achieve your goal? Without time limits, it’s easy to put goals off and leave them to die as well as a deadline. It’s a good idea to set some short-term milestones along the way to help you measure progress. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals. Time bound goals should answer questions like:

  • When this goal will be completed?
  • What can you do today?
  • In the next 6 weeks, what can you do?
  • What can you do in next 6 months?


How long will it take you to acquire these skills? Do you need further training, so that you’re eligible for certain exams or qualifications? It’s important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.


Benefits and Drawbacks of SMART Goals technique

As mentioned above, SMART is a tool to provide clarity, focus and motivation you need to achieve your goals. SMART goals are also easy to use by anyone, anywhere, without the need for specialist tools or training.

There are some interpretations that SMART can lose its effectiveness if it is misunderstood. Some people say it does not work for long term goals.


How can you apply it in your life?

There may be many situations in your life where you have planned or have been planning for any lifetime moment. But it’s never happened. May be you tell yourself it’s because you don’t have the time or the money, and you’ll think about it next year.

Let’s take an example, you always dream to travel around your country but every time it fails when you plan for coming year. What happened now? You have left it for any time post retirement. You can see around yourself or in your family relations, people are still not free post retirement for living their dreams.

Try setting SMART goals to help make your travel plans specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. You might find that the real reason you haven’t traveled is because your plans have been too vague or unrealistic. Think about how you can adjust your vision and rephrase it as a SMART goal, so that you can make your dream come true.


This blog post may be long but it was needed to understand it completely.

There is no need to leave anything for the time you are not sure. Analyze and start it now if possible using SMART goal setting tool.

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About Author

Satyendra Mishra

Project Management Professional (PMP) and Microsoft certified, motivated, energetic and accomplished Project Manager / Architect with 15+ years of work experience in Management, Architecture, Analytics, Development and Maintenance. I have been fortunate to be a part of over 25+ .Net / SharePoint projects delivery with various companies across different industry sectors. This has provided me a valuable insight and experience especially in successful implementation of SharePoint based solutions.

My experience in Web application implementation includes technology strategy and road-map definition, business and technical requirements identification, governance, platform architecture, solution design, configuration, development, quality assurance, training, post-production support, team lead and overall project delivery along with project management.

Satyendra Mishra holds a B.Tech. in Computer Science & Engineering and PG Diploma in Advance Computing from Center for Development and Advance Computing, Pune, India. He is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

I love to share Project Management Tips and Tricks by writing Blogs in the Project Management India Community. I have written around 300+ articles in the Project Management, .Net, SharePoint and related client side technologies.

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