Personal Development

11 SMART Goals Examples for Growing Your Career

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For most people who like their jobs, advancing their careers is something they strive for. Unfortunately, too many people think waiting around for someone to notice their potential is enough… and, thus, end up disappointed and feeling unappreciated when it doesn’t happen.

You need to actively work at making things happen. You need to set goals and work toward achieving them.

There are many different methods you can use to do this, but time has proven that SMART goals are the most effective for the majority of people. Today, we are going to give some SMART goals examples for career development.

Let’s get started.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals are those that include five elements. They are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It has been found that these five elements are essential in creating goals that will actually be reached, instead of merely staying as dreams. 

Specific indicates you make your goals as detailed as possible. Avoid generalizations or things that can be interpreted in more than one way. For example, losing weight is too general while losing 100 pounds is specific.

Measurable goals have something built into them that will allow you to determine if you are making progress toward the end goal. They also include something that allows you to know you have reached the goal.

Achievable goals are ones that you actually have a good chance of reaching. It is good to have dreams, but you need to make sure you take into account your abilities, circumstances, and the resources that you have. You need to give yourself enough time to reach your goal. 

Relevant goals must have a reason that relates to your ultimate goal. If they don’t have an impact on reaching the higher goal, you risk losing interest in working toward them. Relevancy gives you momentum.

Time-bound goals include when you are aiming to meet your goal. When you leave it open-ended, you may have a tendency of procrastinating. Give yourself a deadline.

Why are SMART Goals Important for Growing Your Career?

Nobody is likely to notice you and hand you the position of your dreams without some effort on your part. Setting and achieving goals is the most likely way for you to realize what you are seeking… and be “seen”.

SMART goals have withstood the test of time. They include all the elements necessary to fine-tune the goal and see that it stays on track. 

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SMART goals are an effective tool for growing your career because they provide a clear and measurable framework for achieving your professional objectives.

Without solid goals, you may find yourself struggling endlessly. You can easily lose direction or completely lose motivation. Without those two important elements, it is highly unlikely that you will get where you want to be.

By setting your SMART goals, you are sending a message to your brain that you are in a growth mindset and that you are serious. Step by step, you will find that you can look back and see that you have come a long way and, when you look forward, you will be able to see your ultimate goal getting closer.

11 SMART Goals Examples for Career Growth

Here are eleven SMART goals examples for career growth. Use these as a starting point to set your own. They should give you ideas for the path you personally want to take and help you make SMART goals that fit your needs.

These may even encourage you to make SMART goals in other areas of your life!

1. Improve Communication Skills

“In order to improve my communication skills, including better listening skills and reading people, I will take a course in basic communication at the local college this upcoming semester.

The following semester, I will take an advanced communication class to improve my writing skills. I will aim for at least a B in each class to indicate I learned the material well.”

S: This goal states exactly what you will do, when you will do it, and why. This makes it specific.

M: This is easy to measure in that you know whether you take the course and you know what grade you achieve.

A: Taking the classes is very achievable. By working hard, you can also achieve the grade you are seeking.

R: Communication is one of the biggest factors in advancing in many areas so this goal is relevant.

T: You specify when you will take both the first course and the second one, and the courses have a built-in end date, so this is a time-bound goal.

2. Developing Public Speaking Skills

“I have a problem expressing myself when I have to talk in front of even small groups. In order to improve my public speaking skills, I will start attending the monthly meetings of my Toastmasters group.

After six months, I will speak to my supervisor about allowing me to make a presentation at a staff meeting to see if I can do so without stuttering or forgetting what I want to say.”

S: You make this goal specific by stating what you plan on doing and what you will do as a follow-up to check your progress. 

M: You can easily measure whether or not you attend the meetings and your self-confidence and clarity when you give the presentation will also measure your success.

A: This goal depends only on you scheduling time for the meetings, so it is attainable.

R: Being able to get your ideas across clearly is essential when you are leading, so this goal is relevant.

T: You not only state how often you will attend meetings but give yourself six months to be ready to make a presentation. This makes the goal time-bound.

3. Take a Leadership Building Course

“In order to improve my leadership skills, I will take an online leadership training course next month. Upon completion, I will volunteer to lead the next project in our department.

Its successful completion will let me know if I need further training or have shown my ability to lead adequately.”

S: This goal is specific in that you state what you will do and where you will do it. You also continue with stating your next step.

M: This goal is measurable in that you know whether or not you take the course and your success at the volunteer project will also be an indicator.

A: As long as your boss allows you to lead a project, this goal is achievable. You will know if you take the class.

R: If you are to advance, you will need good leadership skills so this goal is relevant.

T: Giving yourself the timeline of taking a class next month and then immediately volunteering for a leadership role both make this a time-bound goal.

4. Expand My Professional Network

“I need to expand my professional network. In order to do this, I will identify some of the main people in my field and arrange lunch dates with one at a time, at the rate of one a week, over the coming six months.

This will give me an opportunity to know each one better and will give them a chance to know me without pressure on either of us.”

S: This is a specific goal. You state what you will do and how often. You also state for how long you will continue.

M: Your appointment calendar will make this goal measurable.

A: All you need do is set up lunch dates and show up, so this goal is definitely attainable.

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Expanding your professional network can have a significant impact on your career growth and success.

R: Having a large network helps you gain knowledge of opportunities and references, so this goal is directly related to career growth.

T: Stating you will have one lunch a week and do this for six months makes this time-bound.

5. Become Certified or Obtain a Higher Degree

“I have my Bachelor’s degree but would like to advance so I will start working toward a Master’s in my field.

I will research the opportunities at local and online colleges over the coming two months and choose a program to apply to that I can attend in the evenings and complete my Master’s in two years’ time.

S: You make this a very specific goal by stating what degree you are reaching for.

M: Obtaining your degree will be the measure of this goal. Each class will measure your progress.

A: With proper scheduling and consistent work, this is an achievable goal.

R: Management positions and others that are higher in a company often require advanced degrees, so this goal is relevant.

T: You give yourself two years to attain the degree. This makes the goal one that is time-bound.

6. Start Following Industry News

“In order to increase my knowledge of current trends in my industry, I will explore what is available in the way of trade magazines and podcasts over the coming week.

By the end of this month, I will subscribe to one monthly industry magazine and schedule time to listen to one podcast every week. I will continue this for the coming year.”

S: By stating that you will subscribe to one print magazine and one podcast, in your industry you make the goal specific.

M: You can easily measure your success by knowing if you follow through with the subscription and listening to the podcast each week.

A: This goal is completely attainable. There are bound to be many choices and you can easily pick the ones of most interest.

R: Keeping updated on industry news shows that you care about your job and this will help you speak well at seminars and meetings. This will look favorable to those who are in control of your advancement opportunities.

T: By committing to finding the magazine and podcast by the coming month and continuing for the coming year, you make this a time-bound goal.

7. Encourage Team Collaboration

“In order to encourage my coworkers to work together more often, I will reach out to one coworker every day for the next month and offer to help them on a project they are working on.

In addition, I will ask for help at least once a week from a different coworker, even if I don’t really need the help. In this way I can better show my coworkers that working together is beneficial to everyone.”

S: You make this specific by stating what you will do, in what time period you will do it, and why. 

M: You can easily measure your success by keeping track of when you ask for or offer help. You will be able to measure the success of this action by observing the behavior of coworkers.

A: Asking for and offering help are both achievable. It is, however, up to your coworkers whether they are willing to learn and grow.

R: Being able to encourage teamwork is definitely relevant to rising through the ranks. It is one of the traits of good leadership.

T: You give yourself one month of offering help daily and asking for help weekly. This makes the goal time-bound.

8. Be More Flexible

“In order to become more well-rounded at work, I will step out of my comfort zone once a month for the next year and offer to work on something that I am not currently familiar with.

At the end of the year, that will allow me to be able to work in many different areas of our company.”

S: You are very specific in what you want to do and when you will be doing it. You also state for how long. All of this makes it a specific goal.

M: You will be able to measure your progress and success by keeping track of what you do each month.

A: As long as you have the cooperation of your boss, this is perfectly attainable.

R: The more you know and understand about what is going on in all departments of your company, the greater your chances will be of moving up. That makes this a relevant goal.

T: You make this goal time-bound by stating you will do one different thing a month for an entire year.

9. Improve Time Management Skills

“I am often rushed to meet deadlines and need to learn to manage my time better. With that in mind, next week I will start to break down each project I am assigned into smaller sections that can be worked on daily. I will set a deadline a week earlier than the project is due and work toward that deadline.

This will give me room for any emergencies and eliminate much of the stress. It will also give me more of a chance of doing my best work. I will keep this up indefinitely and will keep track of how many projects I manage to turn in early for the coming three months to see if this method works.”

S: This goal is made specific by stating exactly what you will do with each project and that you are striving for a deadline one week earlier than necessary. You also state how you will keep track of your success.

M: Keeping track of each project you manage to turn in early will make your success measurable.

A: This goal is attainable as long as you practice self-discipline and remember to do the necessary steps.

R: Being dependable is relevant to career success. In addition, the less stressful you are, the more productive you will be and the more enthusiasm you will have for your job. All this makes this goal relevant.

T: While you state the ending is indefinite, you make this a time-bound goal by giving yourself a three-month period to review progress.

10. Identify and Improve Weaknesses

“Some of my weaknesses are causing me to do less than I am capable of doing. I will sit down this weekend and make a list of my weaknesses. Next, I will pick one a month to work on in order to strengthen these weak spots. This will continue until I have completed my list.”

S: You have made this specific by stating exactly what your list will consist of, when you will make it, and how you will work on completing the list.

M: You will be able to measure your success as you cross off the items on your list.

A: This is definitely attainable. A little self-knowledge and dedication are all you need.

R: The fewer weaknesses you have, the more you have to offer an employer. That makes this goal relevant to career advancement.

T: By indicating that you will work on one weakness a month until the list is complete, you make this goal time-bound.

11. Perfect My Resume

“In order to be ready for any advancement opportunities that may arise, I will hire an expert at resumes next week to help me create a stellar resume that is ready to be presented at a moment’s notice. I will review this resume every six months and update it as needed.”

S: You state what you are going to do, and how you are going to go about it, and include review times. All of this makes the goal specific.

M: Measurement of your success will be when you hold the new resume in your hands and each time you update it.

A: This goal is definitely attainable.

R: Having a resume that reflects your greatest points ready when the opportunity arises is relevant for career advancement.

T: Having the resume expert hired next week and including six-month review periods both make this a time-bound goal.

Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Career Growth

Setting good goals is the first step in achieving greater success… regardless of which area of your life you want to work on. You can go it on your own, or use a free SMART goal template to help you make sure you are including everything you need to make this a workable goal.

The most important thing to remember is to be positive and stay on task. Also remember to forgive yourself for occasionally veering off course. After all, some of the most successful people have had their dreams take a detour… but they got back on track, making their achievements that much more rewarding once they reached their final destination.

You too can turn your dreams into reality by setting SMART goals today… and watch your career soar tomorrow!

And if you want more SMART goal ideas and examples, be sure to check out these blog posts:

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