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  • Dr. Eric Rooker

Making S.M.A.R.T Goals

Some of you may have heard me reference S.M.A.R.T goals in our latest podcast. If you didn’t, go checkout latest episode 3 Goals for Any Vet in 2020 for some great ideas about goals for veterinary students, associates or clinic owners!

In that podcast I provided a general overview of three different goals for veterinary practitioners. However, what those goals didn’t cover was how exactly you should design, word and structure your goals for maximum success.

This is where the S.M.A.R.T goals concept comes in. The acronym S.M.A.R.T was first described in literature in 1981 by author George T Doran. Doran described this concept in his landmark paper titled There’s a S.M.A.R.T Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives.

He postulated that goals should be composed of a variation of five factors and that goals needed to be specific, measurable, assignable, relevant and time based. Now later literature would see a change from assignable to attainable but this overall concept was revolutionary when proposed.

By creating a well described desirable outcome using S.M.A.R.T goal setting you are able to formulate the clear path of action you need to undertake to make it happen. A great S.M.A.R.T goal will create a vision for you and help determine the level of performance that will be required to achieve your end goal.

What is S.M.A.R.T?

S.M.A.R.T, as we mentioned above, stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Let’s break down exactly what each of these words stand for.


Specific means that we descriptively envision what this goal will encompass. What exactly do we want to accomplish? What actions will we need to take? Who will do these actions? Where will they be done?

In this step we want to get as descriptive as possible. Avoid generalities such as; I want to improve, I want to expand or I want to prevent. These terms are too vague and don’t describe the task you wish to take on.

Instead provide things like, exact times you will work, how the work will be accomplished and by whom. Or focus on the exact tasks to be done and what the SOPs for accomplishing them will be.

This step is where you organize your thoughts into a specific cohesive thought pattern and really get down and dirty with what you want to accomplish. This step will probably take the most time out of any of the S.M.A.R.T planning steps but it is also one of the most crucial to overall success.


In the measurable step we seek to quantify the outcome you desire. This can be in terms of dollars earned, clients served, events held etc etc. The important part of this step is that it will often act as either a road marker metric along the way to completing the goal OR the actual completion point of the goal.

I recommend that you set measurable goals for set time periods within the complete S.M.A.R.T goal. For example, if you have an annual goal to earn X more dollars in consulting then you want to be sure you earn X/4 each quarter to keep you on track.

The measurables of a goal are the most black and white concept in S.M.A.R.T goal planning but be sure to bounce this number off a mentor or peer prior to setting it to be sure it makes sense in the context of the overall goal.


Is your goal attainable or is it way out in left field? Does it focus on your skill set and current WHY or is it just the next shiny object that you have seen.

Often times people get stuck at this step. If a goal is easily attainable is it truly a goal or just a normal occurrence? If a goal requires so much extra work and the training it is impossible in the given time frame then it is not attainable.

A great way to evaluate your S.M.A.R.T goal is to use the attainable step to make sure that the goal is stretching you out of your comfort zone but at a manageable level when it is compared to other expectations in your life.

Be sure that you know how you can accomplish the goal, obtain the skills or equipment required to accomplish the goal and/or have an idea of where you can seek out someone who can help you accomplish the goal. If you do not do this prior to starting a S.M.A.R.T goal you’re setting yourself up for failure.


How does the goal fit into the bigger picture of your WHY or your businesses WHY? Does it align with your mission or vision? Should it have priority now or is a later date a better time to pursue this goal?

This is important because it will give you your “why” for this goal. If you need a refresher on WHY and it’s importance, go checkout our podcast about finding your WHY. No matter what the why is, it will help you fight though any obstacles that come up while trying to accomplish a goal.

Asking ourselves if a S.M.A.R.T goal is relevant is a great way to avoid shiny object syndrome as well as avoid stretching our resources too thin. Over extending beyond your current focus or ability can quickly lead to many problems within your professional and personal life.

The other day I heard a great piece of advice on a podcast; always say NO to new goals or projects when asked to do them, THEN force your mind to convince yourself why you should say YES later. This will force you to ask this relevance question every time you set a new goal or take on a new project.


Last but not least every S.M.A.R.T goal needs to be time bound. This establishes a realistic time frame the goal can be accomplished in as well as good progress markers along the way. By setting these time lines and making a deadline you will be forced to make continuous progress on your goals rather than procrastinating about them.


By leveraging the S.M.A.R.T goal principle you can create powerful and specific goals for yourself. This will lead to a high completion rate and better achievement for yourself and your business. Begin to implement this process today by selecting one of this weeks 3 podcast goals for 2020 and making up your own S.M.A.R.T goal to achieve it!

Carry on OTO’ers

Dr. Eric


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