Career Development

Setting SMART Goals to Enhance Your Career

Setting clear goals within a defined structure makes them more achievable and helps advance your career. Using the SMART approach, you can set and organize your goals to be more attainable and trackable.

In this article, you will learn more about this method of goal setting and how you can use it to enhance your career. 

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym, with each letter representing an aspect of the goal-setting process. The five letters in SMART have the following meanings:

S = Specific

The S reminds you to be more particular about what you are trying to achieve, helping avoid setting generalized goals that are difficult to track. When writing specific goals, you might want to consider using action words. For example, ‘I’m going to sign six new clients in the next two weeks’ is more a more specific goal than ‘I want more clients.’

M = Measurable 

By making sure your goals are measurable, you can quantify objectives. In the example above, the addition of numbers to the goal makes it possible to know when you have achieved your goal.

Having a quantifiable goal has the additional benefit of helping you to track progress. If your goal is to make six sales and you’ve made three, you have a better understanding of how much you need to do to complete your goal than if you had set a loosely defined goal to make sales. 

A = Achievable 

By making sure your goals are achievable, you’re ensuring that you are setting the right goals. An ambitious goal that you are certain you can achieve with enough effort can be highly motivating. Conversely, an unrealistic goal can deflate your enthusiasm. Striking a balance between challenging yourself and being practical leads to achievable goals. 

R = Relevant 

Examining the relevance of your goals ensures that you set objectives that have a definable benefit to you and your organization. Goals with clear relevance to your career in both the short and long term can be easier to follow through. When you know accomplishing a goal can positively impact your career, you may find it easier to stay inspired.

T = Timely 

Making sure your goals are time-based can help you to stay motivated as you work to achieve them. Setting deadlines for yourself and your team introduces structure to the goal-setting process. It’s also an essential part of making your goals trackable. If you’ve determined that you want your team to make 10 sales in two weeks, you can tell how much progress you’ve made after a week. 

Goals with a time element give room to adjust your efforts to ensure that you meet the deadline. 

When incorporating a deadline into your SMART goals, it’s advisable to keep it flexible and realistic. Restrictive deadlines can diminish morale, while flexible and feasible deadlines can energize you and your team to achieve your goals. 

Advantages of SMART goals

SMART goals have the following advantages for goal setting:

They are cohesive

As you set SMART goals, you will find that some of the aspects overlap. For example, adding a time element to your goals is as relevant as it is timely. While examining the relevance of your goals, you might discover that the goal is of little importance now but will be relevant in two months, enabling you to begin working on it at a later date. 

Similarly, adding a deadline to your goals refers to its timeliness, but it also applies to measurability. Cohesiveness is an advantage of SMART goals; all the aspects form a system. One aspect strengthens and solidifies the others.

They help you focus

The specific nature of SMART goals makes them easier to keep working towards them. If you’ve determined that a goal is truly beneficial to your organization and yourself, it’s likely that you won’t struggle with motivation. 

They can be broken down 

Long-term goals sometimes require more focus to achieve. The measurability of SMART goals allows you to break them down into smaller and more manageable objectives, which can make the overall goal less daunting. This also makes it easier for you to identify milestones you’ve reached, as well as when you might be lagging behind and need to readjust your methods for attaining your goal. 

They instill discipline

The discipline gained from setting and structuring SMART goals and holding yourself and your team accountable is an attribute that will be useful throughout your career, especially as you advance into leadership positions. 

Setting SMART goals can have far-reaching benefits for your career through a structure that makes them attainable and trackable.