Setting SMART goals is a valuable way to achieve progress and structure your professional development. If you’re not making progress towards your goals, looking for a way to be more productive, feeling lost or unsure of what constitutes success, or working with a team on a complex project, formatting your objectives in SMART goal format will help you plan for success. In this article, you’ll find the steps to help you create and execute your SMART goals, including an example of how to turn a ‘dumb’ goal into a SMART goal.
When setting a goal, narrow in on what exactly it is you want to accomplish. A specific goal answers questions like:
The more specific a goal is, the more likely you are to complete it.
Figuring out a metric for your goal makes the goal more tangible by providing a way to measure progress. The best way to do so is to set milestones to achieve throughout your goal journey.
A goal needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. It should provide an opportunity for growth and improvement on your skills but still remain within the realm of what is possible for you and/or your team.
Considering the relevance of a goal allows for a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture and the reality of why you may be moving towards this goal or if this is a goal worth expending energy towards in the present time.
A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
Providing a target date for your goal is imperative. Additionally, if your goal is long-term and will take a few months to complete, it’s useful to define what should be achieved half-way through the process or at specific check-points. Providing time constraints also creates a sense of urgency and a framework for completing the goal.
Using the SMART goals formula, we can create new and improved goals that are more actionable and specific. Let’s walk through a simple example below:
Goal 1: I want to work in finance
OK, great. Now let’s make it SMART!
Once you go through and write your goals according to each SMART characteristic, you can then combine and consolidate all the work you’ve done into one SMART goal:
SMART goal: I want to pass the FINRA SIE (72%+) in 2 months using an online prep course.
Notice how the SMART goal is much more specific and actionable, with a clear metric for success, timeline, and goal. Nice work!