Creating SMART Goals to Support Your Professional Development

By Teri Barr posted 03-03-2022 20:39


Have you ever sat down to write out your professional goals only to find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper for what feels like hours?

Or maybe you’ve created your list, but you’re having a hard time reaching your goals?

Creating your goals by using the SMART framework may help you break through when you are stuck. Each element of the framework is meant to support a carefully planned, clear and trackable list of steps to get you to your goals.

The SMART Goal Framework

Specific choose a concise goal that is clearly defined

  • What exact steps do I need to take to achieve this goal?

  • Why is this valuable to my professional career, long-term?

  • How will I prioritize this goal compared to other goals?

Measurable – identify an easy way to track the progress of your goal

  • What are some reasonable milestones?

  • How much measurement is enough?

  • What will I use as a measuring tool?

Achievable – generate a goal that will be possible to hit

  • Is this goal realistic?

  • What are the steps to achieve my goals?

  • What factors may hurt or help me reach my goal?

Relevant – create a goal that aligns with your long-term objectives

  • Why is this goal important now?

  • How will this goal advance my professional development in the present and future?

Time-based – pick a time frame or target date to achieve your results

  • Is this achievable by the deadline I set?

  • Could something delay my progress?

Transforming General Goals

Let's look at a few general goals and transform them into SMART goals: 

Your initial goal:

The SMART version of that goal:

I want to improve my time management skills. I will improve my time management skills using time tracking to increase productivity by up to 50% over the next three months.
I want to get promoted. I will earn my promotion by completing any mandatory training and following through on it by June.
I want to organize a fundraiser I will organize an October fundraiser to raise $5,000 for my local Boys and Girls Club.

Putting it into Practice

Now that you’ve familiarized or refreshed your memory on the framework and have seen some examples, it’s time to get to work! Jot down a meaningful goal on that piece of paper in front of you. Then, apply the SMART elements to refine and ignite your professional efforts.

One important thing to remember – don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to meet 100% of your goals every time. It’s more important to set your goals knowing it’s in the effort to improve your life.

What SMART goals have you set or are you working towards right now? If you haven’t tried this SMART framework, do you think it may work or have you found an even better way to succeed when making your professional goals?

1 comment



03-08-2022 11:21

I think the most useful part of SMART goals is the encouragement to actually make goals, and the little bit of direction to make the goals more useful.
As someone who is "goals challenged," I always find a lot of the writing about SMART goals either too general or overwhelming/confusing.
For me, the most important take aways are:
  • Make goals that are specific, not vague. For instance: I want to spend less time instant messaging instead of I want to waste less time at work
  • Have an idea how to measure them. I will count the minutes I spend over the next two to three weeks.
  • Make sure they have something to do with your overall professional goal. If I waste less time messaging, I can spend it on research or learning new skills.
  • And to me Achievable & Time based really dove tail into the measurable piece. You need to be able to chart progress.
Anyway, that is my take away. Offered by someone who has probably made their fair share of DUMB goals.