Setting goals is key to advancing your career and feeling fulfilled by your job. Whether your employer requires you to set goals as part of your performance-review process or you take the initiative on your own, it can help you to plan out your professional future.
Below we show you how to use a SMART goal framework to set realistic, achievable career goals.
As you walk through these steps, answer the questions on paper with a reliable pen. The STEEL F-701 Ballpoint Retractable Pen features a weighted stainless-steel barrel for a premium writing experience. If you prefer gel, reach for the G-350 Gel Retractable Pen. It has rapid dry gel ink technology that dries in less than a second, and comes in three fashionable barrel colors.
Be as clear and specific as possible with the goal you want to achieve. The more specific your goal is, the more you’ll understand the steps necessary to achieve it.
Below are 4 questions to ask yourself when defining the specific details of your goal:
- What is my objective?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved or responsible?
- What steps will I take to achieve this goal?
The next step is to identify how you will assess the progress of your goal to ensure it is measurable. Quantifying your goal makes it that much easier to track progress.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How much or how many?
- How will I know when the goal is accomplished?
Although your goal can be ambitious, it still needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. Make sure your goal is not dependent on factors outside of your control.
An achievable goal should pass these questions:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints?
- Are there factors outside my control that would impact the success of this goal?
Next, double-check that the career goal is related to your mission, values, and bigger long-term goals. If a goal doesn’t contribute toward your broader objectives, it might be best to reevaluate.
Below are questions to ask yourself to make sure your goal is relevant:
- Is this goal important to me?
- Is this goal aligned with my values?
- Will achieving this goal help me in my longer-term goals?
SMART goals don’t stretch into infinity–they have a deadline. Instead of leaving your goal open-ended, create a timeline, and set important milestones along the way.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my goal timeframe?
- What smaller milestones will help me stay on track?
- What can I do immediately to jumpstart this goal?
It is never too late to start setting goals and look at where you can make changes in your professional future. Use the SMART goal framework to help you move forward in your career. For more professional tips, check out How to Make More Productive To-Do Lists.