How to Effectively Set Career Goals

Career goals remain to be a fantastic way for you to stay motivated at work. If you aren’t sure how to set them or if you have never even thought about implementing any kind of challenge for yourself in the past, then here you can find out everything you need to know.


The overall theory behind setting goals has been around since the 60’s but the SMART acronym was first coined in the 80’s. George T Doran started to use a framework so that he could improve corporate performance. The overall meaning of the letters might have shifted over the years, but this is what it stands for.
Specific- You need to identify an area that needs improving.

Measurable- Suggest how to indicate progress or how it can be quantified

Assignable- Allocating a specific task to someone.

Realistic- Be clear and concise about what needs to be achieved.

Time-Related- Set a deadline

If you are setting a career-related objective, then you need to try and break it up into chunks and then work out some of the smaller steps you need to take. When you have done this, you then need to write everything down, so you have somewhat of a tangible plan.

Long-Term Goals

Setting long-term goals for yourself will give you a sense of direction before you need to figure out the short-term goals you need to take. Think about it, if your current role stayed the same for the next 5 years, would you still be happy? If not, why? Do you need to move sideways? Up? Do you need a completely different career path? What are you good at right now? By answering questions like this, you can then begin to help yourself to plan out the future you’ve always wanted.

Short-Term Goals

You also need to make sure that you set short-term goals that will help you to put yourself in the situation you’d like to be in- for the future. Break them down over a very reasonable period of time and don’t try to do too much at once. If you do, then you may end up burning yourself out and this is the last thing you need.

You have to be honest with yourself, and you also need to try and find the areas that you could potentially improve on. Think about the experience you have, and how you could make progress. Would it be possible for you to identify someone who is more senior in your working field who could talk you through some of the challenges that they have faced in their career? Could you ask for opportunities that are outside of your usual role so that you can gain experience in a brand-new area? Can you earn additional qualifications?

Even when you are setting short-term goals, you do still need to make sure that they are SMART. Don’t forget about setting some time aside so that you can celebrate short-term achievements. It’s always a good idea for you to give yourself some goals that are actually achievable in a very short space of time. This could include trying to update your CV or even adding some more qualifications to your profile on LinkedIn. The more you can do things like this, the more momentum you will gain when you are trying to excel your career and the more confidence you will gain overall.