How to define SMART goals: 5 examples for your project

20/01/2023 | Santander Universidades

Are you a hard worker, yet feel you can take your projects even further? Setting out your goals and objectives in a smart way might be the solution. With SMART goals, you can bring more clarity, a good focus and increased motivation to setting goals and directing efforts towards achieving these. 

Ultimately, proper setting goals is the key to achieving success with a project. On this matter, a study by CoSchedule reveals that marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to succeed than those who don't.

If you want to learn what SMART goals are, how to write them and what the benefits of applying them to your project will be, let us explain all.

What are smart goals and how can you write them?

The concept of “smart goals”  first appeared in 1981, in the article There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives by George T. Doran, published in the book Management Review by Peter Drucker. Later, in 2003, Paul J. Meyer delved deeper into the topic and described the features of SMART goals in greater detail, in the book Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond

According to the definitions set by these authors, SMART goals are a set of concrete objectives that address the five basic components making up the acronym SMART: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant 
  • Time bound 

Taking Meyer's contributions into account, SMART goals should be defined with the following characteristics in mind:


A specific goal implies having something concrete and well-defined as your objective. For a goal to be defined in a specific way, it should answer the following questions:

  • Who's involved?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Where? 
  • When do I want to achieve it?
  • What are the real obstacles and limitations to achieving the goal?
  • Why do I want to achieve it?  

Not specifying what you want to achieve leads to doubts and ambiguity, making it difficult to focus efforts or sustain motivation.


When a goal is measurable, it allows concrete criteria to be established to measure and evaluate progress and make any necessary changes. Thus, milestones must be quantifiable. In this regard, a measurable goal will address questions such as:

  • How much does it cost?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when I have achieved it?


An achievable goal is realistic. When setting your goal, try to identify opportunities or resources that may not have been considered. This involves taking personal and economic possibilities and limitations into account when setting your goal.  An achievable goal will answer these questions:

  • How can the goal be achieved?
  • How likely is the goal to be achieved?


A relevant objective is one that is aligned with other goals and that, therefore, makes sense within the project as a whole. For this, try to answer these questions:

  • Is it worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this clash with other efforts or needs?
  • Are you the right person?
  • Is it applicable in the current socio-economic context?


It is important to establish goals within a time frame, setting a deadline, as this will help to concentrate efforts on completing the goal. A time-bound goal will usually answer the questions:

  • When should it be finished?
  • What can I do today, tomorrow, in six weeks, in six months, etc.? 

5 examples of SMART goal application

SMART goals can be applied to any area. Defining them and putting them in writing involves prior work that involves reflection and analysis. For this reason, below are a few examples of SMART goals, applied to different fields, for you to see the process in more detail. 

To save money

If you have a project or business, saving money is a good habit. But what for? Buying assets, enhancing training or creating an emergency fund may be some of the reasons. An example of a SMART goal to achieve these savings might be: 

“From 1st January, I will start saving money every month for the next five years until I have €12,000 for an emergency fund."

To write a book

Writing a book is a goal many people set themselves, but not all achieve. Setting a SMART goal can help you to maintain focus and develop good habits. However, as this is a complex objective, it needs to be well-defined, for example:

“Over the next six months I will have 200 pages of my book on productivity for work teams drafted and ready to send to the agency. To do this, I will work for two hours a day, from 6 to 8 a.m., Monday to Friday, and I will write at least twelve pages per week (3,000-4,000 words). Also, the first draft will be ready in four months so that the necessary corrections can be made.” 

To increase sales

Increasing sales is the goal of any person or company dealing in products or services. To achieve this broad goal you will have to set a much more concrete one: 

"To increase the turnover of my e-commerce business by 20% in 2022, optimising investment in advertising and content quality to increase organic traffic by 50%”.

For professional development

SMART goals for professional development are goals that can provide an important boost to your career. And they don't need to only refer to gaining knowledge or developing new skills; they can also refer, for example, to expanding a network of contacts. One example would be:

“I will expand my network of professional contacts by 10% in 2022. To do this, I will attend at least two meetings per month (face-to-face or online), as well as networking or professional events, conferences, etc., in order to secure key contacts within my industry.” 

For personal development 

There are plenty of personal development goals we might set, including leading a healthier lifestyle, learning new things or improving social skills. But to achieve something and understand what it actually is that you have achieved, it must be defined in advance. An example of a SMART personal development goal could be:

“I will read every work day, from 6 - 7 a.m., until I finish at least twelve personal development and self-help books in 2022. This works out at a total of one book per month to improve my self-awareness and learn to live fully.” 


The benefits of implementing SMART goals

Implementing SMART goals for projects and businesses helps you to move ahead with more security and greater control over the process. Bearing this in mind, some of the benefits of applying SMART methodology to defining goals are:

  • Reducing unnecessary business risks: better planning is achieved through SMART goals, since order is established in the business in terms of processes, systems, etc.
  • Optimising communications: by having a broader vision of the business, it's easier to understand precisely what is expected with each project and, at the same time, specific and direct communication is made possible.
  • Improved time management: by setting clear objectives, it is easier to implement a method where tasks are spread across a specific timeframe.
  • Facilitating the establishment of improvement processes: the global vision offered by SMART goals lets us see how the project is progressing as a whole, what progress has been made so far, and whether the set goals are being met.  

Boost your efforts with SMART goals

As you can see, setting out SMART goals will help you to focus your efforts on your goals in a smarter way. This is a tool that contributes to increased productivity and efficiency, reducing work-related stress by better allocating resources and time.

Also, this methodology is applicable to various aspects of life, from the personal to the professional, as, for example, they can help with improving certain soft skills, such as team management or communication skills. Ultimately, these skills are becoming more and more important, and in many cases, make the difference between a professional who is prepared to take on new and continual challenges, and one who isn't.

That’s why, Banco Santander, in collaboration with The London School of Economics and Political Science, one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions in the fields of economics and business, launches 1,000 seats for the Santander Course | MBA Essentials 2024 – LSE.

In this ten-week, 100% online certificate course, designed so that you can complete it at your own pace, you will quickly and practically learn the essential business skills to make better decisions and achieve greater impact within your organisation. The programme is offered in English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

This is a unique opportunity to take an in-depth look at the three pillars of business management and leadership taught in an MBA: strategy, finance and leading teams. Additionally, you will be supported by the best mentors and facilitators from the LSE and you will be able to interact with your peers via weekly forums and group dynamics. The course has no cost for the beneficiaries and it is not necessary to have a university degree, nor to be a Banco Santander customer.

Do you want to play a more relevant role in decision-making in your professional environment? Sign up for the Santander Course | MBA Essentials 2024 – LSE and whether you get it or not, never stop learning.


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