How to Simplify Goal and Objectives Setting – Turning SMART into TA

OK, hands up. Who actually goes through each of their objectives or goals and tests them against each of the 5 criteria in S-M-A-R-T?

Right, its one of those things that sounds great in theory but is rarely applied in practice.

Well, what if you could get like 90% of the benefit that comes from the theory of SMART using a modified approach called TA?

[A quick word on terminology – we use the words goal, objective and outcome synonymously.]

Rule 1. Start With T

Try this. Start every objective with a timebound word such as Each, Every, By, Within, After and sometimes Ongoing.

[A tip – sometimes ‘Ongoing’ is correct but be careful here that your not just using “Ongoing” when there should actually be a deadline.]

Here’s some real examples from our Australian based business:


  • By 15 Sept 13, Marketing Strategy has been finalised and priorities developed
  • For each month, we have met our Net Profit goals as outlined in our Best Case/Shooting for the Stars
  • For the month of Dec 13, 25% of our revenue comes from either multiple sales (eg upsell) or recurring sales (eg BNR renewals, bookkeeping). This equates to 25K.

Customer Service:

  • By 30 August we have agreed on the promises we have made to customers
  • By 30 Sept and ongoing we are exceeding those promises
  • Ongoing, all CS developed email templates to be signed off by Marketing Mgr and Legal Officer. (Marketing and Legal to have corresponding outcomes)


  • Each Friday, transfer funds from PayPal account to bank account, leaving balance of approx $XX
  • By 10th July, end of year financial year payroll checklist is completed
  • By 14th July each year, payment summaries are issued to employees

Starting with a timebound word works because it does 2 things simultaneously.

  1. If nothing else, you know for sure that your objective will be timebound. Remember that time means money and not putting a time limiter on your Objectives makes them irrelevant.
  2. Starting with a timebound word forces you to think into the future as to what you want to achieve and therefore makes your objectives more likely to be measurable.

Rule 2. Make it A for Aligned

There is no point having a goal or objective that is not aligned with the broader goals of the business.

So your objective needs to be “Aligned”.

There are 2 simple ways of doing that:

  1. If you are using one of the Cloud Based Systems that we recommend, then you will be able to ‘cascade’ your objectives from top down and that will automatically ensure that it is aligned.
  2. If you’re not using a cloud based system, another neat approach is to preface each objective with the Organisational Objective in question. (Note that most businesses can get by with a maximum of 6 top level Organisational Objectives so this should be quite achievable. See our separate examples)

As an example, lets say one of your top level Org Objectives is “Make 100k net profit in September 13” and a related objective is “Draft sales email to send to clients”. Then your goals becomes like:

Sept 13 100k Profit – By 9 Sept 13, draft sales email

Its not nearly as easy or neat as the Cloud based systems but if you don’t want to spend a little money on those Systems, its works.

If you have any questions on the above or want to find out more about the Cloud based solution that will best suit your situation, Ask Us a Question