· to practice setting and achieving realistic and ambitious goals

· to understand the influences on individual and group setting

· to experience the impact of competition and the achievement motive on goal setting


· Smarties candies (2 rolls per person)

· "Smart Goals" record sheet (one per person)

· 1 minute timer (a watch or timer with alarm is best)

· flat-topped tables, each with 4 or more chairs (enough for everyone to have a seat)


20-30 minutes


1. Distribute Smarties (2 rolls per person) and "Smart Goals" record sheets (1 per person), and explain the task – to stack as many candies as possible in a vertical column, using only one hand, in one minute. They must first estimate the number of candies they can stack (i.e., set a goal).

2. Explain the scoring system:

· candy stacks must be standing 5 seconds after the buzzer to count

· if the goal is NOT reached, count 5 points for each candy stacked.

· if the goal IS reached, count 10 points for each candy stacked (up to the goal). Add 5 points for each additional candy stacked (over the goal).

3. Then ask participants to set their goal for the first round (no practicing allowed).

4. After everyone has set a goal, say, "go" and start the timer. Circulate to be sure the "use only one hand" rule is being followed.

5. After the buzzer sounds count 5 additional seconds out loud. Stacks must remain standing for 5 seconds after time is called to count. Ask people to calculate their scores and record them on the record sheet. Determine who stacked the most and who had the highest score (not always the same person). Discuss any unusual approaches you or others used or observed.

6. Ask participants to set and record a new goal for the second round, using what they learned in Round 1 to make a better estimate.

7. After they have recorded their goals, but just before you start the time, announce that in Round 2, they must stack with their no-dominant hand. (If there are moans and groans, explain that life is full of surprises!) Proceed with the second round, repeating the process explained above.

8. Announce that Round 3 will be a team competition, with each table being a team. (Tables with more than 4 people should choose four members to be the "stackers" for their team.) Four people for each team will stack candies, same rules as before. In other words, each team will build 4 vertical columns and set a goal for the total number of candies stacked and standing 5 seconds after the buzzer. Obviously, if any one stack does not survive, the team goal is affected. Allow teams time to negotiate and record their team goals.

9. Conduct Round 3, then ask teams to calculate their scores. WARNING: competition tends to heat up in the team round, so be ready to mediate disagreements.


Debrief the activity using questions such as these:

· In the first round, how accurate were your goals? Too low/high/right on target? How did goal setting change in the second and third rounds? What strategy did you use?

· What environmental influences came into play? How did you respond to those?

· Which was your best round? Which did you like better, working alone or on a team? Why?

· How did team members motivate and encourage each other?

· What lessons about goal setting can we draw from this exercise?

· Introduce and discuss the goal-setting acronym, SMART:

S = Specific (detailed, not general or vague)

M = Measurable (includes some quantity or element that can be measured)

A = Attainable (ambitious but reasonable; often breaks large goals into smaller pieces)

R = Responsible (the goal-setter feels responsible for and motivated about achieving the goal)

T = Timed (establishes a time frame for accomplishing the goal)

· Explain that in this class, participants will be asked to set SMART goals frequently to help make the business-planning process more manageable.


· Check the Topic Index for other goal setting activities

· Establish regular intervals to set and revisit goals. Goals should be adjusted from time to time to reflect changing circumstances or priorities.



· candy stacks must be standing 5 seconds after the buzzer to count

· if the goal is NOT reached, count 5 points for each candy stacked

· if the goal IS reached, count 10 points for each candy stacked up to the goal. Add 5 bonus points for each additional candy stacked (over the goal)


Goal _________

Actual performance _________

Score _________


Goal _________

Actual performance _________

Score _________


Goal _________

Actual performance _________

Score _________