SMART goal setting will help you to stay motivated through challenges and make decisions that bring you closer to the kind of career and life that you want for yourself.
Think of SMART goal as a pc monitoring software that helps you to work more efficiently, meet deadlines and avoid being sidetracked from your priorities. Failing to set goals is the “ready, fire, aim” approach to career and life management.
So, if you’re convinced you want to start setting goals for your career, a few tips on goal setting will serve you well.
The SMART goals method is a great way to ensure you’ve set a practical goal for yourself.
SMART goal setting – SMART stands for:
Let’s examine the SMART technique using the following goal as an example:
“Within the next three days I will call five business contacts to network and seek job opportunities.”
You are more likely to follow through on a specific goal than a general goal because it is clearly defined. Specific goal setting helps you to focus clearly on exactly what you want to accomplish and how you will do it.
Just saying I will look for job leads is not a specific goal. There are plenty of ways to look for job leads. This general goal gives no direction. It doesn’t tell you anything about what to do to achieve the goal.
The original example goal is very specific. It describes a specific strategy for finding job leads (calling business contacts). This goal lets you know exactly what you need to do to accomplish your goal.
If a goal is measurable, then you will know exactly when you have accomplished that goal. Establishing specific criteria for reaching a goal allows you to determine how close you are to reaching that goal and be motivated by your own progress.
A goal that states, I will call some business contacts to network and look for job leads, is not measurable. How many business contacts do you need to call? How do you know when you’ve achieved the goal?
The original example is measurable. You know you’ve achieved your goal once you’ve called five of your business contacts.
SMART goals are within your control. If you set goals that are outside of your control you are just setting yourself up for failure.
Some people might set the following goal: I will find five great job leads in the next week. At first glance that goal might sound pretty good, but that goal is not definitely attainable by you. You don’t have reasonable control over whether you find five job leads in the next week. You may do a great job of networking and seeking out job opportunities, but you still do not have complete control over how many great job leads you will find within a specific time frame.
The example goal, on the other hand, is an example of SMART goal setting because it is attainable. You have control over whether it happens or not. You do not have to rely on the whims or good will of others to ensure that you call five business contacts, and you can reasonably expect that calling business contacts will lead to the outcome you want – finding several great job leads.
Effective goal setting requires you to take into account the things that you are reasonably willing and able to do to achieve your goals.
I will call twenty business contacts in the next three days. Is that goal realistic? Maybe, it depends on who you are. If you have a big network of contacts and you are not terrified of business networking, that might be a perfectly realistic goal.
If you’re like most people and the idea of business networking strikes fear in your heart, then calling twenty business contacts may be completely unrealistic for you. If you know that calling five business contacts to seek out job leads is the most you can manage, then five should be your goal. Push your limits a little bit, but don’t set yourself up for failure.
SMART goals have deadlines. Deadlines help you to determine how much time you have left to achieve a goal and prevent you from procrastinating.
Your goal might be I will call five business contacts. If you are procrastinator, you’ll immediately see the problem in that goal. When will you make those phone calls? There’s no deadline pushing you to finish the task.
On the other hand, the example goal provides a deadline. You know you have three days to make the phone calls, and that deadline will help you to avoid the trap of procrastination.
When you practice SMART goal setting, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with your career goals. SMART goals can help you to stay focused on the short and long term outcomes that you want to achieve with your career and your life. SMART goal setting is an effective way to stay motivated and keep your career focused in the direction you choose.