Remember to be “SMART” when you set career goals


Perhaps you rang in the Yew Year by making a few “resolutions” for yourself… well, guess what? You can do the same for your career!

Planning for your future and managing your career is no easy task, but setting goals is definitely a step in the right direction.

Whether you are already settled into a job, employed in a role that you view as a stepping stone or in the process of finishing your post-secondary education – everyone can benefit from goal setting. Short-term and long-term goals and all those other steps in between can help you look at the bigger picture and focus your energies on the positive.

During performance planning discussions at work, my supervisor taught me that when setting goals they should be “SMART.”  Not only is this is an easy acronym to remember – it makes perfect sense!

S – Specific

Be clear when setting your goals – this will keep you on the right track.

M – Measurable

By setting goals that can be measured, you can assess your progress along the way.

A – Attainable

Set goals that are within your reach.

R – Realistic

Your goal should represent an objective in which you are both willing and able to work toward. When trying to decide whether or not your goal is realistic, ask yourself if you truly believe you can achieve it.

T – Timely

Whether short term or longer term, give yourself a deadline. If you don’t reach the goal by the set deadline, re-assess. Did something get in the way? Was the goal too lofty?

What I like about the SMART acronym is that it can be used for pretty much any type of goal setting and is not specific to work-related goals. I find myself using this method quite often when setting goals; mostly at work, but occasionally for my personal life as well.

It is important to keep in mind that setting goals for yourself and your career is an ongoing process and as you begin setting and achieving goals regularly, you will find that your confidence increases as well. After all, when it comes to your career, you get out of it only what you put into it!

About the author

Claire Schneider is a strategic senior consultant with the Government of Alberta. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Management in 2003. Before beginning her career with the Alberta government in 2004, Claire spent one year teaching English in Japan with the JET Programme. She loves to travel and since graduating has visited Thailand, France, England, Mexico and the U.S. Claire is passionate about what she does and loves that she is able to be creative at work. She is a member of the Human Resource Institute of Alberta, possesses the Certified Human Resource Practitioner designation and is active in the HR community.