SMART Goals examples for your career

As a professional, in order to grow, you have to set goals to help you move from one point in your career to the next. However, setting goals isn’t always easy. In many cases, you might know what you want to achieve, but you aren’t sure how to create a path to reach it.

This is where SMART Goals can help. Setting SMART Goals can help you take an idea of what you want to accomplish and turn it into an actionable plan. In this guide, we will help you learn what a SMART Goal is, how you can write your own SMART Goals, and share tips for achieving them.

What is a SMART Goal?

If you have never heard of a SMART Goals, you might wonder, “what is a SMART Goal?” SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This acronym is used as a framework for setting goals.

Rather than simply setting a vague goal, the SMART Goals methodology helps you realistically outline your path from where you are currently to the place you want to reach. It is a highly actionable version of setting goals that makes it easier to break apart big goals into achievable pieces.

How to write SMART Goals

The SMART Goal method is designed to make it easier to set a goal for yourself. However, if you aren’t familiar with the framework, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The following are the steps you need to take to learn how to write SMART Goals.

1. Specific

One of the keys to creating SMART Goals is being specific about what you hope to achieve. As you begin the process of writing a SMART Goal, turn a broad goal into something more specific.

For example, rather than saying, “My goal is to get a new job.” You could create a more specific goal like “My goal is to get a new job as a digital marketing manager.”

Adding a more specific component to your goal makes it easier to break down what steps you need to take to get there.

2. Measurable

After you understand the specific goal you hope to achieve, you need a way to measure whether or not you are making progress toward your goal. This is a key component of SMART Goals as it is the benchmark you will use to ensure that you are actually moving towards your goal.

For example, from the above goal of “My goal is to get a new job as a digital marketing manager,” you could now add a measurable component. “My goal is to get a new job as a digital marketing manager. To do so, I will apply to two open digital marketing manager positions each week.”

Now that you have a measurable component to your goal, you can track your progress.

3. Achievable

SMART Goals are designed to be within the realm of achievability. Make sure that when you set a SMART Goal, the end goal is reasonable. For example, if you want to become a digital marketing manager but have zero experience in digital marketing, you might need to set a more achievable goal instead, such as aiming to earn an entry-level position.

4. Relevant

SMART Goals should be relevant to your overarching life goals. For example, if your goal is to become a marketing director one day, setting a goal of stepping into a digital marketing manager position next is a relevant goal. This is one step of many on your path to achieving your main goal. However, if you hope to become a fitness instructor, working toward a digital marketing manager position might not be relevant to your bigger goals. Always ask yourself, is this goal pertinent to my long-term plans?

5. Time-bound

Similar to the measurable aspect of SMART Goals, these goals should have a timeline attached to them. Rather than simply setting out toward a goal without an end in sight, make sure to determine when you will check back in to see if you have reached your goal.

For example, if you want to earn a role as a digital marketing manager, and you plan to apply to two open positions each week, you might set a timeline for yourself of one year. If you haven’t achieved your goal by the end of the year, you can check back in to see why. This helps keep your goals on track and prevents you from aimlessly working toward goals into perpetuity.

SMART Goals examples

As you learn how to set your own SMART Goals, use the following SMART Goals examples to help you get the hang of using this method to set goals:

Example 1:

My goal is to write a 500,000-word novel. Each week, I will write 10,000 words. In 50 days, I will submit my rough draft to my editor.

In this example, you can see that the goal starts with specifics. Rather than stating, “I want to write a book,” the goal setter details how many words the novel should contain. From here, the goal contains a measurable component “I will write 10,000 words each week.” This will make it easy for the goal setter to know at the end of each week whether they are working towards their goal effectively. Finally, the goal is something that has a time limit. After 50 days, the novel should be submitted to an editor.

Example 2:

My goal is to become more efficient at using Microsoft Excel. Each week, I will complete one segment of the Excel Proficiency course through the Microsoft learning center. After the course is complete, I will perform my monthly reporting to determine whether or not I can run the reports in less time. 

Rather than stating a goal of “I want to become faster at running monthly reports,” the goal setter focused on the specific skill they need to accomplish this larger goal. After defining the specifics of the goal, they gave themselves a measurable task of taking a single segment of a course each week. Finally, they have a time-bound component, which will help them determine whether or not they met their goal.

Tips for achieving your SMART Goals

Achieving goals isn’t always easy. You can set SMART Goals with the best intentions and find yourself a month later having missed the mark. Use the following tips to help you achieve your SMART Goals:

  • Be realistic: One of the top reasons why people don’t reach their goals is because they set unrealistic goals. As you set your first SMART Goal, make sure you are being honest about what you can accomplish. If necessary, break a bigger goal down into manageable chunks. For example, rather than a lofty goal of “I will lose 50 pounds,” you could start with a smaller, more achievable goal of “I will walk three times a week.” Later, once you have met this goal, you can add on another small goal. Keep adding new ones until you build up to your bigger goal.
  • Check-in: Part of the benefit of a SMART Goal is that it provides a means of measuring your progress. Make sure that you pay attention to this component of your goal and check back in regularly to ensure you are working incrementally toward your goal.
  • Adjust: Once you reach the time limit you placed on your SMART Goal, you might find that you didn’t achieve it. Rather than being discouraged, consider adjusting your goal. Often, you can reset and start again with a better, more accurately defined goal.

Setting goals is an important part of growing as a professional. Put the SMART Goals methodology to work as you improve your skills.