Many of us have already heard, that objectives should defined SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related.My problem with such nice acronyms is that they are usually too nice to be true. Everybody can remember SMART. Thats why many people prattle about it, but nobody actually uses it. If you scroll down the wikipedia page mentioned above, you’ll find several meanings for each of the five letters, partially contradicting each other, and even two more letters, telling you that objectives should even be defined SMARTER. But even those two have several meanings.
That the more of the criteria are fulfilled, the easier it should be to find a way to get their. This does say nothing about the quality of the objective or the easiness of the actual way, just about the process of finding a solution! Only the planning gets easier, but this should also affect the possibility that you start and finally reach the goal.
But which criteria should objective definitions really fulfil?
Actually, you can reduce the number down to two, that are quite essential:
- Measurable: The objective should be defined in a way that makes it clear, if it was reached or not.
- Time-Related: There should be – at least a rough – definition by when the objective should be reached.
What about realistic? Do you have to believe, that you could reach an objective or is it better, to set high goals, and see the journey already as destination? Both could work and is depending from the kind of objective and the personal preferences.
And finally, all objectives should exist in written form. Once they are written down they create some commitment that helps to reach a goal much better than a vague verbal idea.