What is the Amazing SMART Coaching Model [2021]?

One of the most famous and helpful coaching models is the SMART coaching model. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

SMART coaching model helps coaches to make their coaching practice more robust. It does so by enabling them to set SMART goals for their coachee.

SMART goal-setting helps in bringing clarity in goals. Big objectives are narrowed down to make them more specific in nature. The coach establishes parameters to measure the success of the coachee and the coaching process.

SMART coaching model focuses on creating realistic goals. It encourages practical and relevant approaches.

Along with this, the SMART coaching model ensures that practical deadlines are set for achieving transformation.

SMART coaching model
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Many coaches who use the SMART coaching model find it very helpful for their coaching process.

Do you want to know more about the SMART coaching model?

Do you want to learn the benefits of SMART coaching models?

Do you want to know how can you apply the SMART coaching model in your coaching process?

Do you want to know the difference between the SMART coaching model and other top coaching models?

Yes, Then that’s great.

In this article, I will cover most of the things related to the SMART coaching model.

Before we dive into the depth, let’s first understand more about the SMART model.

What is the SMART Coaching Model?

There are various coaching models that coaches use to guide their coaching practice. One of the most effective coaching models is the SMART coaching model.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. SMART coaching model helps the coaches to set goals and create an action plan that goes with its definition.

To understand the coaching model better, let’s explore its meaning.

S – Specific

Any goal needs to be specific. To gain clarity in the ultimate goal, sometimes it is needed to narrow it down. The coaches who follow the SMART model ensure that the goals are atomic in nature. Such goals are easier to accomplish. Also, the coach has clarity regarding what they are struggling for.

Specific goals mean that the purpose is clear. This helps the client and the coachee to be in pace with the coaching process. When the coach feels that the coachee is going off-track, the coach can remind the coachee of the specific purpose or goal that needs to be achieved. This ensures that the coachee remains on the right path.

Specific goals bring more action words.

For example,

A business coach may get a coachee who wants to gain new clients soon.

Instead of saying “I will get new clients”, you can set a specific goal for your coachee – “I will get 5 new clients by the end of this month”.

M – Measurable

Action steps and goals hold relevance only when they can be measured. M in the SMART coaching model helps the coach to quantify and measure the efforts of the coachee. Measuring the efforts adds the accountable aspect for the client. It helps the coachee to know once they have achieved a particular goal. In a nutshell, the measurements define whether or not the coachee has achieved the goals.

In the above example, the coach can ask the coachee to get four new clients the next month as the measure of success.

A – Achievable

SMART coaching model
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SMART coaching model includes setting a goal that is achievable. Goals that are not aligned with the present situation and timing hold less importance. Whether a client will be able to meet a set target also depends on their strengths, weakness, knowledge, and resource.

Setting achievable goals means being ambitious and practical. Geeting 4 new clients can be practical but within 1 week can be too ambitious. Sometimes coaches are so motivated that they set unrealistic goals for their coachee. As a result, the coachee finds it difficult to attain goals. This leads to reduced spirits and low self-confidence.

SMART coaching model focuses on setting achievable goals that the coachee can relate to.

R – Relevant

SMART coaching model emphasizes setting relevant goals and action steps.

Suppose a coachee who is a small-business man, approaches you. He wants to increase profitability instead of sales. In this scenario, getting new clients may not be a relevant action step. Instead, other plans need to be focused on. These can be:

  • Reducing production costs
  • Focusing on retention of existing customers
  • Increasing the profitability by focusing on per sale transactions
  • Focusing on price increases etc.

When steps are relevant to the expected outcomes, it becomes easier to achieve goals.

T – Time-Bound

Time-frame for achieving the goal is important. Not only for marking the end of the duration of your goal but also for determining the efforts. Working to achieve four new customers is ok but along with this, the deadline should be set too. Otherwise, though your coachee will achieve the goal it can take longer than desired for doing so.

Have a look at SMART goals Templates and worksheets to practically implement the SMART model.

SMART Coaching Model – Coaching Questions

Coaches who follow the SMART coaching model ask different coaching questions. These questions are aligned to the definition of the SMART coaching model. If you think that the SMART coaching model suits you, have a look at the below-mentioned questions.


  • What specific results do you want to accomplish?
  • Do you think that you can narrow your goals down?
  • Do you think that your expected outcomes are specific?
  • What is the purpose to accomplish the outcomes?
  • What are the reasons to achieve the outcomes?
  • What are the benefits of accomplishing the outcomes?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • Where is it going to happen?
  • What is the risk involved?
  • What else do you think must be considered to make the goal specific?
  • Do you think there are other parameters that can affect the outcomes?
  • Paint me a picture of how would the success look and feel to you?


  • How will you know that you have achieved your goal?
  • What would be the parameters that will help you to measure your success?
  • What tools and exercises you will use to measure your success?
  • Are data to measure your success readily available? Or do you need to develop the measures of success – surveys, focus groups, etc.?
  • Do you think there are any other factors that can help in measuring success?


  • Do you have sufficient financial stability to achieve your goal?
  • Do you have enough time to reach your destination?
  • Do you have the skills and resources to attain your goals?
  • How confident you are to attain the goal?
  • What are the limitations that can prevent you from achieving the goal?
  • What do you think will matter most to achieve the goals?
  • How will you set your priorities to ensure that the goal is attainable?
  • What are the other resources that you need to achieve your goals (Technology, space, equipment, etc.)?


  • Why is the goal/approach significant?
  • Is the goal align with the needs?
  • Do you think that the action steps are in line with the goal?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the relevance of the goal to your personal/professional life?
  • Is it worthwhile?
  • Does the action plan align with the needs/efforts?
  • How does this goal relate to your most important value?
  • Have you ever faced any relevant situation before?
  • Is there any other experience of yours that can give relevant insights for tackling the current situation?
  • What are the most irrelevant things that you find about the goal, process, or session?


  • When will we achieve this objective?
  • When will we begin taking activities to achieve this objective?
  • When will be able to achieve the shorter outcomes?
  • What date will you make significant progress related to the goal?
  • Are there other milestones that you want to set?
  • When do you think it would be too late to achieve the goal?
  • What is the shortest span of time in which you think you can achieve the objective?

Benefits of SMART Coaching Model

There are some great benefits of choosing the SMART coaching model over others. Below are some such benefits.


SMART coaching model emphasizes on noting minute details regarding the objective. In the process of narrowing down the goals, the coachee’s situation becomes a lot more clear. The coach asks coaching questions to make the coachee realize their strengths and weakness.

With each coaching session, the coachee attains clarity. This clarity in the thought process and action steps bring the coachee closer to the objective. Whether it be setting a deadline or questioning the relevance, the process demands the coachee to be clear. Once clarity is established it becomes a lot easier to execute the action plan.

Connection with Reality

SMART coaching model
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SMART coaching model connects the coachee with reality. The coachee may be ambitious and passionate. They may have big dreams that are difficult to achieve in the span of time that they want to. While making the goals achievable or time-bound, the coach ensures to build a realistic approach. Goals should be ambitious but not too ambitious. There should be enough practicality in the action plan. An impractical approach will only lead to dejection and unfulfilled desires.

Helps in visualizing

SMART coaching model helps the client to visualize and build plans. The coach helps the coachee to realize how the end result would feel like. The coach encourages the coachee to dedicate themselves to achieve the set objective by painting a beautiful picture of the transformation.

Focuses on setting priorities

If one wants to make the goal achievable and time-bound, priorities will have to be in place. There can be multiple steps in the action plan. But, only the ones that can take the coachee towards the expected outcome in the given time should be prioritized.

Along with this, the deadline reminds the coachee to prioritize other tasks in their daily routine. Measuring the performance on continuous intervals help the coachee to redefine priorities. Constant focus on priority ensures that the coachee is on track.

Improves decision-making ability

Clear directions and priorities assist the coachee to make better decisions. Relevant steps and timeline improve the process of decision making. Better decisions help in better outcomes. As a result, the coachee finds it easy to perform the action steps. Successful decisions increase confidence and bring the coachee closer to the goals.

Less scope for mistakes

The SMART coaching model brings clarity in all aspects of the coaching process. With proper directions and constant review, the chances of mistakes reduce. Correct actions and fewer mistakes reduce risks and negative outcomes.

Concrete action plan

SMART coaching model allows the coach to build a concrete action plan. The model gives a lot of scope to the coach to understand their clients and their citations. The coaching plan plays a very important role in the coaching process. If the plan is solid it will require fewer tweaks and bring immense results.

5 Common Mistakes that Coaches Make

SMART coaching model
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While executing the SMART coaching model many times coaches make certain mistakes. If you are choosing the SMART coaching model, ensure that you don’t commit them.

Specific – Many coaches are less focused while setting specific goals. To set specific goals you have to be laser focused. There is a difference between the below two lines:

“I want to get clients fast.”

“I want to get 5 new high-end paying clients by the end of this quarter.”

A vague idea about your purpose leads you to create unspecific goals.

Measurable – Many coaches are unable to measure the difference between the starting and ending points. They pay less attention to the parameters that they will focus on while measuring their performance. As a result, it becomes difficult for them to understand how far they have reached in accordance with their goals.

Achievable – There’s a difference between a stretch goal and one that is straight out of the stratosphere. Don’t make goals that are beyond the scope of your abilities, knowledge, resources, and time.

Relevant – Many coaches take steps that are not in accordance with their core objective. You can be creative but try not to become irrelevant in the quest of experimenting new.

Time-Bound – Often coaches don’t set timelines and milestones. Some of them set abrupt deadlines that are unattainable. Both these cases must be avoided. Always perform a reality check while setting deadlines.

How can Coaches Apply the SMART Coaching Model?

Coaches belonging to different niches can apply the SMART coaching model for their own purpose. Let’s understand the application of the SMART Coaching model with some examples.

Example 1

Suppose you are a health coach and a client comes to you who wants to lose weight. You set the following goal for your client.

Goal – Your client will lose 15 pounds in three months starting March 23rd by cutting snacks and pizzas. Your client will do regular exercises.

Is it specific?

Yes, losing 15 pounds is very specific.

If it would have had been – “losing some weight”, that wouldn’t be a specific goal.

Is it measurable?

Yes, the three months period is a measurable span. Either your client will lose 15 pounds or not.

Is it Achievable?

Yes by cutting pizzas and doing regular exercises the goals seem achievable. If you might have not mentioned the “how” part it may not be attainable.

Is it Relevant?

Yes, if you had decided to lose 15 pounds in two weeks that would not have been relevant. Deciding relevant steps is a must to achieve the goal practically.

Is it timely?

Yes, the date – 23rd March and three months’ time set the perfect starting and ending points.

I know the above was an oversimplified example, but I hope the meaning is clear.

Now let’s take another example to understand how can a SMART coaching model help in a business setting.

Example 2

Goal: Increasing search engine traffic by 10% in the next two months.

Let’s consider this goal from the SMART coaching model’s perspective.

Specific – Coachee wants to increase the search engine traffic by 10% during the next two months.

Measurable – As a Marketing coach you coach the client to optimize their three best content to make them even better. The aim is to secure 10 high-quality backlinks to those pieces of content.

Achievable – If the team of SEO, designers, and marketers contribute, the goal seems to be achievable.

Relevant – Search engine traffic is the best source of traffic for the client’s business. This is the best way for the coachee to gain organic traffic. So, achieving this goal will directly translate into business success.

Time-Bound – The coachee will achieve the goal within the next two months.


SMART coaching model
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Three coaching models that are most famous amongst the coaches are SMART, GROW, and OSKAR coaching model.

We already discussed the SMART coaching model in this article. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. SMART coaching model helps the coach to set clear, time-bound, and realistic goals. At the same time, it lays focus on the measurement of goals so that the performance of the client and the coachee can be effectively tracked.

GROW coaching model stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Way forward. GROW coaching model is goal-oriented. It helps the coach to set clear goals by examining the reality well. It focuses on exploring options and choosing the best solution for moving forward.

OSKAR coaching model follows a solution-focused approach. It stands for Outcome, Scale, Know-How, Affirm & Action, Review. This model concentrates on achieving the expected outcomes. The coaches who choose this model provides the client with the needed resources and knowledge to support them. The model lays emphasis on positive affirmations and action. Along with it, the OSKAR model encourages frequent reviews to track the performance of the coachee.

Which Coaching Model Should You Choose?

The answer to this question totally depends on you. Choose a coaching model that you think best resonates with your coaching philosophy. Ask the following questions before choosing a coaching model.

Do you want to follow a solution-focused approach? (OSKAR)

Do you want your coaching process to revolve more around the goals of the coachee? (GROW)

Do you think SMART goal-setting techniques will best suit your coaching process? (SMART)

You can also go for a hybrid coaching model. After all, all the there coaching models have their own perks. Rather than considering them as a process, think of them as tools. Depending on the client’s situation you can choose the best tool.

For example:

When you feel that the client needs more clarity with the purpose, choose the GROW model.

When you think that though the client knows his objective it is not specific, measurable, or time-bound, choose the SMART model.

If you think that the client get distracts by the obstacles, choose the OSKAR model to coach the client for a solution-focused mindset.

A hybrid model can help you to be more creative and helpful to your clients as per the need.

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