How to Set SMART Career Development Goals
If you want a career for life, you’ll need to set goals for your career development. Set SMART career development goals for yourself using this useful acronym.
Your career is in your hands. Gone are the days when employees stuck with one employer for life. If you expect to have a lifelong career, it is up to you to ensure you upskill and manage your career by setting smart goals.
What is a SMART Goal?
A goal is defined as a specific objective with a measurable outcome that is achievable, relevant, and bound to time. The SMART acronym should help you remember the best way to frame up your goals:
- Specific – Goals should be specific. For instance, you may want to be a regional sales manager at your company, which is more specific than saying “I want a promotion.”
- Measurable – Can you tell whether you have reached your goal? Saying you want to increase your income is not a measurable goal, but saying you want to increase your income by 25% is measurable because you can determine your success based on that number.
- Achievable – Is the goal realistic? While striving to be CEO of a major corporation is a worthwhile goal, if you think you can achieve that in five years starting from an entry-level position, you may need to rethink it.
- Relevant – To be relevant, a goal has to make sense within the context of other events. For instance, is your desire to pursue educational goals worthwhile considering the cost of college, your current financial obligations, lifestyle, and other commitments? Maybe a year or two would be a better time.
- Time-bound – You do not have a goal until you put a deadline on it. By what date do you expect to achieve your goal?
How to Action Your Goals
Once you’ve defined your career goals, the next step is to discuss these with your boss. Schedule a career conversation with your manager. Review your goals, and get your manager’s input. Ask your boss for suggestions on how and where you need to develop your skills to achieve the goals you’ve set forth. Discuss your job performance seeking feedback on how to improve.
Don’t lose sight of your career path. Establish goals for five years, 10 years, and 20 years, then revisit them periodically. Remember, to achieve success in today’s business environment, it’s important to own your career path. Don’t wait for your employer to start the conversation.