SMART objectives

Once you have identified the needs and aims of your project, you'll set some objectives to help you meet them.

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An objective is a target to reach on the way towards achieving an aim or goal. Objectives are a helpful way of breaking a project down into smaller parts. They are steps along the way with key targets to achieve. Each goal or aim may have several objectives.

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We write objectives while we are planning a project, as they guide what we do when we implement it. They also help us to evaluate the project after it has finished.

Objectives should always be able to answer the following questions:

  • What will be done?

  • Who will do it?

  • When will they do it by?

  • Why will they do it?

  • What standard will they do it to?

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Some resources refer to aims, goals and objectives as being the same thing. However, objectives are more specific than aims or goals. They are what we use to evaluate a project once it is finished. Objectives help us see exactly what we have achieved, what we didn't get done and what we could do differently next time.

SMART objectives

We are more likely to meet objectives if they are SMART.

Initial letter

Word Definition Guiding question


specific The objective needs to be specific about what you want to achieve. What exactly are we going to do?


measurable You need to be able to measure whether you have achieved your objective. How can we tell if we have achieved this objective?

A *

achievable The objective must be something that you can achieve. Is this objective something we can actually achieve?


realistic You need to be able to achieve the objective with the resources that you have. Can we achieve this objective with the resources we have available?


time based Your objective must have a time frame attached. When will we achieve this objective by?

* Some resources refer to this step as attainable.

This SlideShare presentation summarises the process of setting SMART objectives. (They are referred to as goals in this presentation.)

Click on the forward arrow forward arrow to begin viewing the presentation.

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"The objectives of our art expo were to:

  1. provide opportunities for young people to express themselves artistically by holding five art workshops over the 3 weeks before Youth Week.

  2. promote the artistic talents of young people in the community by displaying the art works they created in libraries around our area during Youth Week."

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Download and print a copy of the information on this page to refer to and discuss.

SMART objectives handout - Word document [729 KB]

Last modified: Tuesday, 24 September 2013, 8:58 AM