Go Beyond SMART When Setting Goals

By Hallie Crawford

Most professionals are familiar with the importance of setting SMART goals. They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound.

Setting SMART goals is a great way to stay focused and advance in your career. But sometimes we focus too much on a goal being SMART and we forget to ask ourselves if we even like the goal, are inspired by it, or if it’s the right one.

So how can you be sure that your goals aren’t just SMART, but that they are also goals that you are excited about achieving? Here are three things to consider that will help you choose the right goals in the first place.

Choose goals that will help you find fulfillment. First, in order to ensure your goals are the right ones, it’s important to know what fulfills you professionally and what gives you a sense of accomplishment in your work. This is important because it contributes to the sense of meaning you get from your work or enjoyment in what you do.Aligning your goals with what is fulfilling to you professionally will help ensure you’re working towards the right things.

One way to determine what is rewarding for you is to think about your talents and skills. Which ones give you the greatest sense of accomplishment or meaning when you are utilizing them at work? Could you set a goal to use those talents more frequently? Or is there a talent or skill that you’re not using at all that you would love to leverage at your job? For example, if you love event planning but it’s not part of your job description, do you need to make a career change? Can you incorporate this sense of fulfillment by volunteering on the staff events planning committee for your company?

Choose two talents or skills that you want to incorporate more into what you do every day, and identify a SMART goal to incorporate that talent into your job, if it’s possible to do so. If it’s not, consider whether you need a career transition in order to be more fulfilled. Implementing this process will help you choose a goal that interests you and that you are passionate about.

Make sure that your goals have value. When setting professional goals, you should also consider whether they bring value to your job and, even more so, your organization. Your goal ideally should align with and support the mission of your organization and its values.

To determine whether your goals fit this criterion, check them against the goals your employer has set for your role. What are the 30, 60, and 90-day performance criteria for your position? Then check them each against the goals for your organization as a whole in the same way. Consider whether they are correct or need to be adjusted, even slightly, to better fit this criterion.

Your goal should make sense. When deciding on a goal, don’t just pick something because it sounds good. SMART goals should also make sense for you personally (even if that means leaving your current position for a better fit) and/or make sense for not just your organization but, even better, for your industry as a whole.

Think bigger than yourself. Use goals to improve not only to your current job description, but also the industry you currently work in. Determine what could help the business grow, or what could help your employees to accomplish their tasks more easily. In doing so, you will also be setting goals that will help you grow as well and further develop your brand in your industry.

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