Stretch Goals vs. SMART Goals: What’s the Difference?

Stretch goals inspire us to think big and remind us to focus on the big picture. SMART goals — goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound — help us form a concrete plan of action in order to make the stretch goal a reality.

Setting goals is essential in any organization or profession. It is important to have an end goal in mind when working on any project, but it is also important to understand the different types of goals that exist and how to work towards them. Stretch goals and smart goals are two popular types of goals used in the professional world, but they are very different in their approaches. Stretch goals are goals that are seemingly unattainable and are often used to motivate individuals and teams to work harder and think outside the box. On the other hand, smart goals are more attainable and focus more on setting realistic goals that can be accomplished with a well-defined plan. This blog post will discuss both stretch goals and smart goals, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each, in order to help professionals understand which one is right for their project.

How to Set Effective Goals – SMART and Stretch Goals

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are deadline-bound, specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic objectives. Theyre often helpful for plans that are concrete and plausible. These objectives can assist both individuals and teams in establishing distinct steps toward a goal.

What are stretch goals?

Stretch goals are big, long-term objectives that businesses can use to motivate people to change. These objectives have the important quality of being challenging, which can promote employee growth. They could, for instance, improve morale or promote constructive change at work

Stretch goals vs. SMART goals

Organizations can take their requirements and business models into account when deciding whether to use SMART goals or stretch goals. Although both types of goals can be beneficial, only certain types of improvement are appropriate for each. Stretch goals are different from SMART goals in the following ways:


Stretch goals’ main advantage is that they may lead a team to realize that they are capable of achieving more than they have previously thought possible. For instance, a manager might set a sales target that is higher than what the team has typically sold in a given period of time. This might motivate the team to put in more effort so they can see how much more they can accomplish. Other benefits of stretch goals may include:

SMART goals, on the other hand, have clear steps, which is one of their main advantages. This can ensure that everyone involved in a project is aware of their responsibilities, tasks, and due dates. For instance, a project manager can use SMART goals to assign roles, give clear instructions, and set a timeline if they want to complete two mailing campaigns by the end of the month. Additional benefits of SMART goals include:


Industries like education and healthcare frequently produce predictable and stable results. Stretch goals may be advantageous for these industries’ businesses as opposed to industries with lots of changing factors. For instance, if a sales company is aware that its sales patterns are consistent, it may set ambitious goals with a higher likelihood of success.

Since many businesses must set frequent, modest goals, most industries can typically benefit from using the SMART framework. For instance, businesses in the technology sector may benefit more from SMART goals than stretch goals as a result of the industry’s frequent experience of fluctuating results. SMART goals can help tech companies focus on what is feasible for the business and set clear, timely goals for developing their products, which may be useful given how frequently demand changes in the technology sector.


SMART goals can assist organizations in achieving larger goals with fewer clearly defined steps because they typically have a smaller scope and are more clearly achievable. In order to create long-term objectives that will guide the SMART goals, stretch goals may also be used.

Consider SMART goals as small steps you can take toward bigger stretch goals. For instance, if a stretch goal is to raise a team’s performance overall by the end of the year, some SMART goals within that year might consist of initiatives and jobs that focus on particular performance abilities.

Factors to consider when choosing between stretch and SMART goals

Here are some things to think about when choosing between SMART goals and stretch goals:


What are stretched targets?

For instance, you could set a stretch goal to sell 8,000 products for the following quarter if you sold 5,000 products the previous quarter. Although a 60% increase may seem difficult, it is still conceivable. Stretch goals should be ambitious, but you shouldn’t make them impossibly difficult.

What are stretch goals in healthcare?

The definition of a stretch target in English is a demanding standard of performance that a worker must meet in order to be considered to be performing their duties satisfactorily. Stretch targets should establish the threshold at which a worker’s performance is considered to be “poor.”

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