The secret to success is setting the right goals! This is especially true when planning for your professional goals.

So what are professional goals? And why do we need them?

Think of a goal as a dream for the future.

We all imagine scenarios for every aspect of our lives, and this is especially true about our careers. Whether it's the goal of being promoted, or learning a new skill to expand your portfolio, you are always planning for your professional future.

But the difference between a dream goal and an actual, professional goal is how you plan. Planning paves the way for success, and this is where "SMART" goals come into play.

Photo by Est?e Janssens on Unsplash

What Are Smart Goals?

SMART stands for:

  1. Specific

  2. Measurable

  3. Actionable

  4. Relevant

  5. Time-bound

Setting a SMART goal allows you to be realistic about your goals, while also allowing you to measure your progress. Start with the end in mind!

Quiz

Which of these is an example of a "specific" goal? I want to...

be promoted by next year

earn a lot more money

find a new job within two weeks

become company manager within two years

Applying The Approach To Professional Goals

Start by writing down your goal.

Example: Become a high-earning salesperson in your company.

Ask: Is this specific? What is 'high earning'?

  • You revise your goal to: Become the highest-earning salesperson in your company.

Ask: Is this measurable?

  • If you had an understanding of how much all other salespeople at your company earned, that it could be measurable.

Ask: Is this actionable?

  • Since you aren't in charge of salaries, this is a difficult goal to action. You can control how much you sell.

  • You revise your goal to: Increase sales volume by 50%.

  • You realize that's too ambitious, so you revise your goal to: Increase sales volume by 10%.

Ask: Is this relevant?

  • Increasing your sales volume won't guarantee you get a raise, but it will increase the value you generate for the company and help you build a good case for one.

Ask: Is this time-bound?

  • Not yet! You revise your goal to: Increase sales volume by 10% by the end of the quarter.

Now you have a SMART approach to your professional goal.

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For the best shot at success, write everything down. Track your steps. Referring back to our monthly sales goal example, what have you done to increase sales? Have you called new customers? Have you followed up with old clients?

You are moving forward!

Stay Positive

Part of being realistic is understanding that there isn't a straight path to success. There are ups and downs.

As long as you have an achievable goal, give yourself a time frame, and write down the steps taken to achieve that goal, then you are on the right track!

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Summary

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Remember, the difference between a dream and a goal is action.

If you outline your plan, record your progress, and reflect on your results, your goals will become reality.

What professional goal can you apply this approach to?

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This Byte has been authored by

MM

Monika Mora

Former High School Language Arts Teacher designs bytes to sharpen skills and teach a broad, diverse group of learners!