How to Create SMART Career Goals

For all of us, there are things we want to accomplish in life and in our careers. Maybe your dream is to be the first one in your family to graduate from college. Or maybe you are unhappy in your current job and want to get into a new, more fulfilling career. Maybe you already have a great job and want to advance within your current company.

Whatever it is that you want to achieve in your career, creating goals can help get you there. For goals to be effective, they need to follow a few guidelines. Your SMART career goals should be these five things: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

When you create SMART career goals that meet these criteria, you have a much higher chance of reaching your goals. So how do you create SMART career goals? Read on as we share exactly how!

Specific

The first thing SMART career goals need to be is specific, because with very specific goals, you know exactly what you must do to reach them. Here is an example of a specific career goal that someone may have: I want to graduate from a Medical Assisting program in Fayette County within 18 months in order to start a more fulfilling career. This goal is specific enough to work toward and accomplish because it answers these questions:

  • Who: I want to…
  • What: …graduate from a Medical Assisting program…
  • Where: …in Fayette County
  • When: …within 18 months…
  • Why: …in order to start a more fulfilling career.

By answering the questions above when creating your career goals, you know exactly what you need to do to achieve them.

Measurable

The second thing you need to ensure when creating your SMART career goals, is that they are measurable. Goals need to be measured so that you can track your progress along the way. By doing this, you will know if you’re on track to meet your goals or if there is something that needs to be adjusted in order to meet them.

The best way to do this is to break down your larger goal into smaller chunks. In our Medical Assisting program goal example, we could measure it along the way by listing each class that must be taken as part of the program. In doing this, every time you pass a class, you are one step closer to your goal.

Attainable

When creating SMART career goals, the third thing you need to consider is whether the goals are attainable and achievable. This is an important step because when goals are not attainable, it’s hard to stay motivated to keep working toward them. For example, going to Mars within the next month sounds like an awesome goal, but it’s not attainable, because we don’t currently have the technology to go to Mars. So, while it can seem like a good idea to set your goals super high, doing so can be demotivating because you know they can’t be accomplished anyway.

Using our Medical Assisting program example, a few things to consider to ensure this goal is attainable are the following:

  • Do I have the time to commit to the program?
  • Do I have the support system to succeed in the program?
  • Do I have the prerequisites for the program?
  • Do I have the resources to pay for the program?

If you can answer yes to these questions, you’re well on your way to achieving your goal of completing a Medical Assisting program. If you answered no to any of these questions, don’t worry! The United staff can help you through the process!

Relevant

For your SMART career goals, the next thing you need to ensure is that they are actually relevant to you. Is the goal something that you really want? Do you care enough about it to put in the necessary work to reach the goal? Does this specific goal align with your other goals? Does the goal help you get closer to your long-term goals and dreams?

In our Medical Assisting program goal example, it is relevant because completing the program will help accomplish the dream of starting a more fulfilling career. So, by achieving one goal, you are actually working toward a longer term goal of having a career that provides more meaning and fulfillment.

Timely

The last thing to consider when creating SMART career goals is that they must be timely. This means that each goal should have a time frame in which it will be accomplished. Without a deadline and timeframe for your goal, there will be no sense of urgency to continue working toward it.

When creating your goal, in addition to including a deadline to reach the goal itself, add deadlines for specific events along the way. For our Medical Assisting example, you could create deadlines for when you will take and pass each class, complete your externship, and pass your certification tests.

Achieve Your Career Goals

Now you’re on the way to creating your own SMART career goals! If you’ve ever dreamed of completing a fast track training program, starting a new career, or working in an industry that allows you to help people on a daily basis, we have the programs to help get you there.

Learn more about our Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Office Administration programs and request information today to get started!