A goal setting formula for people who want to set well-formed goals and achieve them.

Paul Stretton-Stephens' Goal Setting Model1. What do we mean by SMARTICS PLUS?

Let’s start with SMART.

It is difficult to determine who we should credit for the creation of what were initially described as SMART objectives. Many attribute the concept to Peter Drucker. However, in 1981 George Doran, wrote an article in The Management Review entitled, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives.” This may have been the start of its worldwide use.

SMART objectives were initially designed for use in business settings by managers, consultants and alike. The term SMART is a mnemonic used to describe a process by which someone can follow in order to achieve a solid goal setting plan. It is widely taught and is firmly on the curriculum of a vast array of business and management courses in schools, college, and Universities around the globe. I have taught SMART objectives to countless people over the years. However, when working with individuals in my capacity as their coach, I have found it useful to add three elements to the process. These additional elements act as an in-built internal evaluation of what has been planned in the SMART process and allows the individual to evaluate and reflect upon the planned goal. This can be viewed below.

2. What is the PLUS?

 The PLUS is the essential Now-Where-How-Know Analysis that features in the section.

3. Things to Consider Before Starting

I use the SMARTICS Plus approach with my clients and many have found the structure to be extremely useful.

It’s important to take time in the creation of your goals. Find a suitable time and an environment where you will not be disturbed.

I have found that it is best to do this work with a pen and paper. Some people even prefer to use coloured pens. If you decide to write up your final goals on a computer for ease of reference, that’s fine but the act of actually writing helps you to absorb the information you are processing.

4. Let’s Start Goal Setting

I have adapted the commonly known Now-Where-How Analysis by adding an important element. And we now have:

The Now-Where-How-Know Analysis

NOW represents the PRESENT. Where are you now?

This is the starting point. Take a sheet of paper and write down a detailed description of where you are now.

  • What is happening in your world personally and professionally? What is your situation in life?

WHERE Do you want to go? This is your DESIRE – Go to SMARTICS below

HOW are you going to get there?  What ACTION(s) need to be taken? – Go to SMARTICS below

KNOW And more importantly, how will you KNOW you have arrived? What FEELINGs will you have?

What will it feel like? What will you see, hear and feel when you have achieved your desired outcomes? Essentially this is the more detail surrounding the ‘M’ in SMARTICS.


When working with individuals I have found that in addition to the SMART mnemonic there needs to be some additional elements which you will see here designated by the letters I C S.

Let’s start SMARTICS

 As stated before the whole process will work better for you if you write it down with pen and paper.


And as it says, your goal must be specific, otherwise, you won’t be clear as to what you’re trying to achieve and your level of motivation will suffer. So be crystal clear at this stage. To help you in this you might want to try answering the 6W’s:

What specifically is my desired outcome?

Why am I setting this goal? Why is it important to me?

Who needs to be involved to achieve this goal and what are their, and your responsibilities?

Where will the action required for the goal take place? And Where will specific milestone events take place?

When will this be achieved? (See more detail in the Time-Frame area later.)

Which resources are required to achieve the goal? And which obstacles would I anticipate?


I invite you to think back to the Now – Where – How – Know Analysis from earlier and think specifically about the ‘KNOW’ element. This is where MEASUREMENT comes in. It will assist you in ‘knowing’ that you have arrived. It is important that your goal can be measured. You must be able to measure and monitor the milestones along your pathway to your goal. This can be expressed as a percentage, number or frequency that can be used during and at the end of the goal-setting period.

You can look at:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • And how will I KNOW I have arrived?


Your goal needs to be achievable and attainable to reach your desired outcome.  It’s fine for it to be challenging for you, however, it still must be possible. Achievability completely depends on the person undertaking the steps to achieve the goal in a specific time frame, and there will be a number of factors to consider in reaching success. They may be current and future workload, family commitments, stress, access to resources and numerous external factors that are possibly beyond your control.

At this point, you would be wise to ask yourself questions such as:

  • How can I achieve this outcome/goal?
  • Do I possess the requisite skills, qualifications or experience required?
  • What are the restraints related to my achievement of this goal and can I overcome them?

Realistic or Relevant

This stage of the process ensures that your goal is important to you and the wider picture in your life/work. From time to time we may need to draw upon other resources to help us achieve our goals. Those resources may include support and assistance from family, friends or outsourced services. The trick here is to maintain and retain control of the situation and the development of your goal every step of the way.

To help determine if your goal is relevant, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Does the planned goal align with my long-term goals?
  • Does the goal align with my values?
  • What makes the goal worth pursuing?
  • Does the goal meet my needs or the needs of my business?

Time-framed or Time Bound

All goals need and end date, a target date if you will. This will provide focus and motivation. It will also enable you to put monitoring (milestones or sub-goals) in place if need be, especially if it is a long-term goal. This will help maintain momentum and motivation.

Setting the overall time period allows you to ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is my target date for the completion of the goal?
  • What can I expect to complete in six weeks from now?
  • What do I need to do and when in order to achieve completion on my target date?
  • What can be done today to move me closer to my target date?

NOTE: If you are in doubt at any stage of the SMART process, go back to the beginning and review from the start. You may need some external input or to gather more information to help you.

If your goal fits the SMART criteria you can now perform three effective evaluative checks. These are internal checks and ask you to evaluate your position having formed the goal. They may eke out an emotional response from you in the positive or negative sense. If it’s positive, fine move on with your planned goal. However, if there is the slightest doubt in the negative sense, and that can be just a feeling or thought you have, it’s worth returning to review your goal.

Intelligent or Intelligence

Ask yourself:

  • is this planned goal an intelligent or wise move for me?
  • is it something that would be in the realms of my possibilities?


Ask yourself:

  • Does the achievement of this goal sit well with my beliefs and values?
  • Does the goal sit well with the real me?
  • Would achieving this goal sit well with those close and important to me?


As yourself:

  • Will the achievement of this goal bring me my desired outcome?
  • Will this goal bring me the success I want?
  • Will this achievement of this goal contribute to my wider success?

Here are some examples of SMARTICS in action.

SMARTICS Example 1

Win Four Clients Per Month

I have one SMARTICS goal for the client acquisition process.

Specific: Win four clients per month

  • Measurable: The number of clients is obvious, but we know to get to four, we need to have 8-10 proposals, 18 pitches, and 30 warm prospects
  • Attainable/Achievable: Last year I averaged 3.2 clients per month, and I have been growing at 20%, so a growth rate of 15% felt very attainable
  • Relevant/Realistic: The number of clients and programs chosen ties directly to my top and bottom line
  • Time-Frame: I measure my performance monthly―incredibly important for staffing and contingency planning
  • Intelligent – This is an intelligent move for me as I know I have time for an additional client each month.
  • Congruent – This sits well with me and my aim for business growth and life- work balance.
  • Success-based – This goal is completely success based and in the long term will aid me in my long-term plans.

SMARTICS Example 2

Design an online Course on Personal Development – Confidence Building

During the next four weeks, design a soft-skill course on confidence-building that contains a pre-assessment, four hours of online coursework and a two-hour online coaching session, and a post-course assessment.

  • Specific: Type of course, content, and layout
  • Measurable: Completion of the whole course and individual parts, such as assessments that can be measured
  • Achievable: I can manage to develop the course
  • Realistic: Based on previous experience of developing similar online courses
  • Time-Frame: Within four weeks
  • Intelligent – The creation of this course falls within my area of expertise that I have not fully utilised and is therefore ideal.
  • Congruent – This fits with my philosophy of making personal development accessible to all at an affordable price.
  • Success-based – This will enhance my portfolio of online offerings and help individuals be more confident.

SMARTICS Example 3

Attend an evening Class in Management Training

During the next 10 weeks, attend a course in management training to help prepare me for a better job.

  • Specific: Select an appropriate course at a time that suits me.
  • Measurable: Completion of the whole course and any assessments that can be measured
  • Achievable: I am available in the evenings and will select a course at the appropriate level.
  • Realistic: I have never done an evening course before and feel that now if the time for me to progress my career.
  • Time-frame: Attend a ten-week course
  • Intelligent – Achieving this course will give me the confidence to seek promotion in my existing employment and/or look for alternative positions.
  • Congruent – This totally fits with my philosophy of continuous improvement.
  • Success-based – The successful completion of this course will open up my world to new possibilities and contribute to my life’s success.

Here is a PDF version for you to download: 


I hope that you find this formula useful and would love to hear how you have used it?

You can contact me at follows:






I am happy for you to share this with your friends family, and colleagues. All I ask is that you provide full attribution.


Mullins, 1999