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How to Set SMART Goals to advance your Career

Life can become a series of chaotic events you can’t control, if you don’t set goals. You have to make conscious decisions and prioritise what you would like to accomplish in every aspect of your life. That’s why you should know how to set SMART goals to advance your career and reflect your full potential.

Take human endeavours for example. They are oriented towards setting and achieving goals. Accomplishments like sending people to the moon, inventing microchips, penicillin or the x-ray machine etc., all were the results of goals that were set at some point. A vision that was drafted and realised.

Table of Contents

What is a SMART goal setting?

SMART is an acronym used for goal setting. There are a number of different versions of the acronym with different terms associated with some letters, as indicated below.

To ensure that your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable (attainable)
  • Realistic (relevant)
  • Time-bound (time-framed or timely)

Setting yourself with a goal incorporating all these criteria will help you focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving success.

Why do you need SMART goals?

Many people struggle to see how they’ll fulfil their ambitions during the next few years or spend their lives drifting from one job to another, achieving very little. The primary reason for this might be because they couldn’t focus their efforts or failed to use their time and resources productively. If they had SMART goals, it could have been quite easy for them to advance their careers successfully.

Therefore, you need good SMART goals for different aspects of career growth. For example:

  • Promotion
  • Career discovery and decision
  • Professional development
  • Leadership development

How to use the SMART goal setting principle?

In the corporate world, one of the most effective tools for achieving goals is SMART goal-setting. Once you have plotted the outlines for your project, you must set specific intermediate goals. With the SMART goal setting principles, you can:

  • Clarify the way goals came into existence.
  • Evaluate your objectives.
  • Create verifiable trajectories towards a certain objective.
  • Have clear milestones and estimation of your goal’s attainability.

So, here’s how SMART goal setting works and how you should use the SMART goal setting principles.

1. Specific

When drafting your goal, you should focus on making it specific and less ambiguous or misleading. Keeping these following questions in mind while setting your goals will increase the chance of your goal being accomplished.

  • Who is involved in this goal?
  • What exactly do I want to achieve?
  • Why do I want to attain this goal?
  • Where is this goal to be accomplished?
  • When do I want to achieve this goal?
  • How do I want to achieve this?
  • Which resources are available?
  • What are the alternative ways to achieve this goal?
  • What obstacles may come in the way of achieving it?

For example, a generic goal would be “I want to get fit”. But a specific goal would be “I want to get a gym membership at the local fitness centre and work out five days a week to be healthier.

2. Measurable

Your SMART goal must have a basis for measuring progress. It’s important to determine your progress and check if you are on track to reach your goal. Setting a measurable goal will allow you to identify when you’ve reached your goal. So, how to make sure that your goals are measurable? Here’s how:

  • Break your goals into measurable elements.
  • Get concrete evidence on each step of your goal that you’re progressing.
  • Plan smartly! Measure the time, money and talent that you’ll need on the way.
  • Set intermediate goals as reminders that will let you know that you’ve reacher your goal. 

So, refine what you want and clarify the physical manifestation of your goal, and only then it’ll be easier to reach. For instance, if you plan to lose ten pounds in five months, you can measure your progress every 3-4 weeks and check if you’re actually losing one pound every month.

3. Achievable

Is your goal achievable? Surely you will challenge and motivate yourself to reach your goal. But you shouldn’t set your target too high or else it can cause you stress. It will decrease the chance of your target actually being within your reach. Neither should you choose a goal too easy. Or else it might inhibit you from pushing yourself and doing more. Therefore, you should think about the achievability of your goal while planning for it. Keep the following questions in mind:

  • Do I have the necessary skills to reach my goal?
  • Are the resources available? If not, how can I obtain them?
  • Have others achieved similar goals successfully before?

4. Relevant

A SMART goal is relevant if you believe that it can be attained. If the goal doesn’t matter to you, it won’t align with your other relevant goals. You can make your goal relevant by answering “yes” to the following questions:

  • Does this goal seem worthwhile?
  • Do you think this is the right time to target your goal?
  • Is the goal attainable within the time limit?
  • Have you considered all the aspects of your life related to this particular goal?

If you are well aware of the objectives behind your goal, it will align with the overall purpose of your career path.

5. Time-bound

Deadlines! Not something everybody likes but something that we all need, especially if we have a tendency to procrastinate. Deadlines are what make people switch to action. However, if a set time frame for any goal is not realistic or flexible enough, it’s very likely that you’re going to fail to reach your goal.

Remember, time is a crucial factor that determines the overall success of any goal. So, here’s what you can do to make your goal-setting time-bound properly.

  • Don’t be too strict on the timely aspect of your goal.
  • Keep the timeline realistic enough so that you can keep morale high.
  • If you intend to push yourself to the limit, make sure your journey to your goal doesn’t become a hellish race.

How to set SMART goals for employees?

Employee goals are incredibly important for the growth of any organisation. Your employees must know not only about their individual goals but also the company’s as a whole. Implementing the SMART goals will help you develop a stable system for measuring the overall progress of your company. Not to mention that it’ll also give you the opportunity to work together to achieve the same mission.

The SMART objectives serve as a way to keep employees on course. They also set expectations and provide motivation and direction for your workforce. When the employees know what is expected of them, they can perform better and exceed expectations. The following steps will help you set SMART goals for your employees.

1. Align the whole team with SMART goals

If your employees know that your company takes goal-setting seriously, it will impact their performance as well as their career progression.

  • Review your organisation’s goals and explain the importance of SMART objects to your employees.
  • Explain to your employees how important they and their roles are to your company.
  • Set up meetings and check-ins to keep your employees on track.
  • Prove necessary training within your organisation to make sure that your employees’ skills are up to the mark.

2. Define success metrics

Make sure your employees know your definition of the success of your business and how you measure productivity. Let your employees know whether you track their progress with time-based measures or prefer quality to task completion. It will help your employees work better to meet your benchmarks.

3. Take feedback and make adjustments

Ask your employees about their opinions after you’ve implemented the SMART goal-setting for your organisation. It’ll also serve as an opportunity to exchange thoughts between the employer and employees.

Continuous reviews and adjustments of your SMART goals based on the feedback will make a significant difference in your organisation’s productivity.


Writing goals and properly planning for them can be quite time-consuming. But if you map out your ambitions based on the SMART goal-setting principles, not only your efforts will be worth the time, but also you’ll find more fulfilment. So, set out your SMART goals and give yourself a roadmap for success.

Goal Setting: Self Development for Instant Success
You will learn from industry experts and obtain an accredited certificate after completing the course. Enrol now for a limited-time discounted price.
Goal Setting: Self Development for Instant Success
You will learn from industry experts and obtain an accredited certificate after completing the course. Enrol now for a limited-time discounted price.
November 26, 2021

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