SMART Goals - CPD & Revalidation


Nurses are all about action and practice. What can you do to address the areas of need you identified? We’re preaching to the converted here. You know what to do. You can plan in your appraisals, for a career development goal, an incident, or at any point in practice using the simple but affective SMART goals template.


SMART goals


  •         Just like with your patients. Plan your own goals with the SMART framework.
  •         Ensure your goals meet each point to increase success.
  •         Use in your appraisal, Use every day in practice.
  •         Review and if not achieved double check goal against SMART to see what didn’t work then adapt the goal to progress.


The objectives need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.


Specific: you need to identify the area that needs to be improved and what action needs to be taken, state clearly what is to be achieved and who is going to make the change. A task may be best achieved as a series of smaller tasks.


Measurable: You need to state how you are going to check or measure that you have achieved this objective, who will do this? Usual measures can include times and quantities.


Achievable: check that the measures to be put in place can be achieved or realistic and are sustainable. An objective may be achievable but it may not be realistic at present because of lack of resources (time, money or staffing).


Relevant: The objective needs to be relevant to what you are aiming to achieve and relevant to your work.


Timed: You should agree a date by which the improvements will be met by


SMART broken down for application


Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:


*Who:      Who is involved?

*What:     What do I want to accomplish?

*Where:    Identify a location.

*When:     Establish a time frame.

*Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.

*Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.


EXAMPLE:  A general goal would be, “Get the patient healthy.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week, eat a healthier diet.”


Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.


When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.


To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……


How much? How many?


How will I know when it is accomplished?


Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.


You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.


Relevance– To be relevant, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.


A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.


EXAMPLE:  Even if I do accept responsibility to pursue a goal that is specific and measurable, the goal won’t be useful to me or others if the goal is to “know how to work the desk during my first week”.


Time-Limited – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.


Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.


EXAMPLE:  I want to learn to use the intravenous infusion pump on my unit. When do you want to have this skill mastered?  “Someday” won’t work.  But if you anchor it within a timeframe, 1 week, 2 weeks, set a specific date, and then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to being working on the goal.


T can also stand for Tangible – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.


When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.