How to write SMART objectives?

As well as performing a final review of the year many people have already started thinking about next year and what they want to achieve. A good way of capturing this is to use SMART objectives.

Objectives are concrete achievements. They describe what you are expected to do in your job over a period of time (usually 12 months). They are used to focus you on delivering what is important to the organisation. If you do your job successfully, and everyone does their job successfully the organisation will be successful. Writing objectives is not easy and can take time, but it is time well spent as you will be clear on what you need to achieve to be successful.

The best way to write objectives is in the SMART format. They must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bounded. A good starting point is to brainstorm who, what, when, where, how and why:

  • Who should be doing it?
  • When should it be done by?
  • Where should it be done?
  • How will it be done?
  • Why are you doing it?

Once you have answered these questions you can start to write the objective.


  • Consider what results you need to achieve to be successful
  • Describe specifically what you expect to do/deliver to get these results
  • Use action verbs as much as possible


  • Consider what successful results look like
  • Describe how that success will be measured (numeric or descriptive)
  • Use terms such as quantity, quality, time, money, percentages and/or changes


  • Consider what steps you must take to deliver the objective. Then consider what resources you will need (skills/budget/time/authority). Do you have these resources and/or will you get them?
  • Describe what you will need yourself and/or from other people or team to deliver the objective successfully. Make sure that the other people/teams know they are involved


  • Consider how your objective links into the overall company objectives via your manager/team/ department objectives
  • Discuss with your manager how your objectives links to overall company objectives


  • Consider when the objective needs to be delivered by specific time frame (beginning and end date)
  • Use specific timeframes, e.g. dates/quarter
  • Establish a time frame for short and long term goals

Once you have completed this for each objective, it is important that you consider your total set of objectives to ensure that it is reasonable to deliver them all successfully over the defined time period. Hope this helps and best of luck with your planning for the New Year.

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