Objectives: Set Robust Goals Using MARST, Not SMART!

Setting SMART objectives is really important, yet seldom done very well. Badly formulated objectives will, at best, steer you and your team. read more...

Written By Kevin Watson

On July 23, 2014

Objectives: Set Robust Goals Using MARST, Not SMART!

Jul 23, 2014Goal

Kevin Watson

Kevin Watson

Director & Lead Coach

Setting SMART objectives is really important, yet seldom done very well.
Badly formulated objectives will, at best, steer you and your team in the wrong direction.
This easy to use guide to adopt S-M-A-R-T is a great way to help you set meaningful objectives:
1. Don’t use S-M-A-R-T in that order, as M-A/R-S-T is often the best way to write objectives.
2. Measurable is the most important consideration. You will know that you’ve achieved your objective because here is the evidence. Others will know too! Make sure you state how you will record your success. 
3. Achievable is linked to measurable. Usually, there’s no point in starting a job you know you can’t finish or one where you can’t tell if or when you’ve finished it.
How can you decide if it’s achievable? Simple, you will know it’s measurable when:

    • others have done it successfully (before you, or somewhere else)
    • it’s theoretically possible (i.e. clearly not, NOT achievable)
    • you have the necessary resources or at least a realistic chance of getting them

4. Realistic is about human resources / time / money / opportunity. If it’s achievable, it may not be realistic.
The main reason it’s achievable but not realistic may be that it’s not a high priority. Often something else needs to be done before you’ll succeed.
If so, set up two (or more) objectives in priority order. It’s important for you to know:

    • do you have (or can you get) the skills to do a good job?
    • where’s the money coming from?

5. The devil is in the specific detail. You will know your objective is specific enough if:

    • everyone who’s involved knows that it includes them specifically
    • everyone involved can understand it
    • your objective is free from jargon
    • you’ve defined all your terms
    • you’ve used only appropriate language

6. Timely means setting deadlines. You must include one otherwise your objective isn’t measurable.
But your deadlines must be realistic, or the task isn’t achievable. T must be M, and R, and S; without these, your objective can’t be top-priority.


Learning how to set and achieve goals is simply a skill. Once you learn this skill, the whole world is your oyster.Khoa Bui


Call to Action

Is it worth all of this effort?
Yes! Time spent on making your goals well formed and robust means they will be easier to attain.
You’ll know you’ve done your job well, and so will others.
Let me know how you use this simple framework by leaving a comment below or dropping me a line.

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