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Even if you put forth significant effort, you may not be as successful at accomplishing your career goals if they are not developed strategically. A well-established method for effectively setting goals is known as SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. Learn more about how to set career SMART goals:

  • Specific

Overly vague goals are perhaps the biggest hindrance to making progress. If you don’t clarify exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, it will be nearly impossible to get started or track how you’re doing. When you’re developing your goals, focus on making them as specific as possible. For example, rather than “get a better job,” a specific goal would be, “Devote one hour per day to job searching activities.”

  • Measurable

It is difficult to maintain motivation and determine how well you are advancing your goals if they are not measurable. Before you settle on a career goal, narrow down how your performance will be measured. What exact factors will indicate whether you are successful? For example, if your overall goal is related to speaking up more at meetings, you could measure that by tracking how many meetings you successfully participated in without remaining silent the whole time.

  • Attainable

The more realistic you make your career goals, the higher likelihood that you will not only achieve them but will gain confidence to tackle even ones that are progressively more challenging. As you brainstorm your goals, take some time to reflect on the attainability. Consider your current skill set, time constraints, and any other issues of practicality to determine if your goals are attainable.  For example, if you want to make more money at your job, but your manager doesn’t have the budget, that would not be attainable as a goal.

  • Relevant

Just because a career goal is worthwhile on its own doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Think honestly about how relevant a career goal is to your overall big picture plan. For example, starting an industry-related blog may be relevant if you ultimately desire to branch out as a consultant and expand your reputation.

  • Timely

Turning your goals into reality requires a defined schedule. Otherwise, you never have a clear sense of urgency and you risk being distracted by other short-term day-to-day tasks or procrastinating to working toward it “someday.” Make your goal timely by defining a start time and desired end date. For example, if you want a promotion but need to earn a certification to qualify, your goal could be to sign up for a program by XYZ date.

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