CLEAR goals are better than SMART goals


The problem with SMART goals is that they just haven’t kept up with the faster, more-agile environment that most businesses find themselves in today. These new business environments require a new way of setting goals. This problem is why I developed the CLEAR goal-setting methodology.

Whether in your business, career, or life, your goals must be smarter than SMART.

Create a clear and compelling statement—one that can be built out, embraced and acted upon by every member of the team.

Use CLEAR goals to ensure your big goals unite your team instead of dividing it.

The Executive Team CLEAR Goal Process:

  1.  Use a workshop format to co-design a shared, team goal
  2.  As a group, outline how that shared goal can be made CLEAR
  3.  Individuals then decide upon their individual CLEAR Goal; this goal must serve both the team CLEAR goal and the individual’s ambitions
  4.  The executive writes 4-10 pages, answering the questions below
  5.  The coach reviews the executive’s document, gives feedback, and asks the executive to write some more
  6.  The coach leads a second review, ensuring the goal has been set properly
  7.  The coach edits and refines the CLEAR goal so that it fits on one page
  8.  The executive reviews the one page CLEAR Goal
  9.  After approval by the Executive, the CEO and the coach, the goal is printed and posted on the wall
  10.  The goal is revisited and refined between one and four times per year


Goals must include a social framework that drives momentum and stimulates the completion of the task.

Ask yourself: With whom? Who is on your boat? Who supports your boat? Who is your boat serving? Who are the stakeholders? Customers? Who in power do you need on your team? Which employees, colleagues, can help? Who do you need above you? Who do you need below you?  Who do you need alongside you? Tell me WHY these collaborators matter.


Goals must be limited in both scope and duration.

Ask yourself: When do you start? When do you stop? What geographical limits exist? What personal limits exist? Are you being realistic? How will I know when the goal is complete? Is the goal SMRT? Is there anything that you should NOT do to achieve this goal?


Goals should make a sincere and undeniable emotional connection to your core and the core of your employees—tapping into an energy and passion that you can feel.

Ask yourself: Does this goal serve my purpose? Does this goal feed my needs? Why am I doing this? Am I 100% dedicated to this goal’s outcome? How will my goal affect the emotions of the people I manage? The people who manage me? My teammates? How will this goal affect your personal goals and career plans?


Large goals must be broken down into smaller goals so they can be accomplished more quickly and easily for long-term gain. They must be actionable, enabling you to dream big, act small and work hard.

Ask yourself: What is the next, smallest, most-obvious action? What key performance indicators can I use for metrics? What key milestones exist in the achievement of this goal? What other goals will be accomplished on the road to accomplishing this goal? What objectives can I stack and track?


Set goals with a headstrong and steadfast objective, but as new situations or information arise, give yourself permission to refine and modify them. What might happen in the future?

Ask yourself: What information can I anticipate changing? What (beyond my control) could cause the above not to occur? Would a change in path mean a change in my highest goals? What matters most? When will I revisit this goal to tweak it? What is most likely to go wrong? How will you adapt to the best-case scenario, worst-case scenario and most likely scenario?

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Adam Kreek is on a mission to positively impact organizational cultures and leaders who make things happen.

Kreek is an Executive Business Coach who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He is an Olympic Gold Medalist, a storied adventurer and a father.

He authored the bestselling business book, The Responsibility Ethic: 12 Strategies Exceptional People Use to Do the Work and Make Success Happen. 

Learn more about Kreek’s live event service here.

Learn more about Kreek’s coaching here.