Three Alternatives to SMART Goals

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Three Alternatives to SMART Goals

Are you setting goals for your small business? If you aren’t, you might be missing out! Goals give your business direction, identify targets and motivate you to succeed. Fulfilling goals lets you know you’re making progress, and that all your hard work is paying off. However, unstructured goals have the potential to lack focus and accountability.  Feeling like you can’t accomplish them can even result in lower productivity and morale.

This is where goal setting techniques come in – they create achievement roadmaps that make you consider real-life context that can help or hinder your progress. If you’ve used a goal setting technique before, there’s a likely chance it was the SMART model. This classic technique features Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Oriented and Time-bound characteristics. This model is popular because it can create pathways for success through an in depth understanding of what you want to achieve, whilst also determining when, how and if it can realistically happen. If you’ve tried using this technique and found yourself discouraged, it’s important to remember that different people align with different goal setting techniques. We’ve compiled three alternatives so you can find the right fit and be on your way to success!

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This goal setting technique takes SMART goals and adds the element of Reward. This characteristic encourages you to celebrate your wins rather than moving on immediately to the next goal. It also acts as a motivator – because your hard work is being rewarded, you’ll value your efforts and be less likely to become burnt out.

Specific – Does the goal have a clear outcome? The less open ended the goal is, the better prepared you will be to outline the steps required to achieve it and take action.

Measurable – Ask yourself how you can measure the progress and success of this goal. These milestones will provide opportunities for evaluation.

Achievable – Consider whether you can currently achieve this goal. Are there preliminary goals you need to set and meet before this is a reasonable expectation?

Results Oriented – Does what you want to achieve align with long-term goals? Can you adapt steps to achieve this goal as needed?

Time-bound – What is the time frame you’ve given yourself to achieve this goal? Is it realistic?

Reward – Celebrate your achievement! This will sustain motivation and encourage personal and business growth.



This model allows you to identify and structure informed actions to achieve outcomes. It requires you to understand your resources, encourages positive behavioural change and calls for you to outline the decision making required to achieve your goal. This goal setting technique is simple, while still creating a considered plan for moving forward.

Goal – What do you want to achieve? What is your ultimate aim?

Reality – Where are you now? What are some of the barriers preventing you from achieving your goal?

Options – Consider what options you have. What resources are available to you? What changes can you make to your own behaviour to overcome barriers?

Will – Which choices will you make? How can you start making changes or tapping into available resources to achieve your goal?



CLEAR goals should be short term, less complex and support long-term goals. They emphasise the importance of collaboration and focus on what each person can contribute towards achieving the goal. This technique also highlights the emotional aspect of goals, which may motivate higher levels of productivity. CLEAR goals should be highly flexible and adapt to roadblocks as needed. This is ideal for changing conditions or uncertain outcomes.

Collaborative – Consider who you’ll work with to achieve this goal. Who are your team members, stakeholders and customers? Why do these collaborators matter?

Limited – What are the time constraints affecting this goal and how will you know when it’s complete? Consider geographical limits, personal limits, and what must be avoided to achieve this goal. Is the goal SMART?

Emotional – Ask yourself, does this goal serve my purpose? Why am I doing this and am I driven to achieve this goal? How will my goal affect the emotions of the people I manage, my personal goals and career plans?

Appreciable – Consider how you will measure goal success. What is the next, smallest and most obvious action? What key milestones must you achieve? What other goals will be accomplished on the road to achieving this goal?

Refinable – What information is likely to change? What (beyond your control) could cause the above not to occur? When will you revisit this goal to tweak it? Consider how you will adapt to the best-case, worst-case and most likely scenario?

Each of these goal setting techniques are effective because they create plans that include roadmaps and take circumstances into account. They go beyond simply having a goal and give you the tools to actively implement it. Excited to use these goal setting techniques but want a community that supports you to stay accountable? Join one of The Collective peer groups where you will meet other like-minded business owners, share goals and stay motivated to achieve them. Learn more about joining here.

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