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Your SMART Goals Need An Action Plan For Success

Updated: May 4, 2023

Setting career goals helps motivate you towards achieving certain objectives or targets. Whether your goal is to get a promotion, pivot to a new career or make a sales target they all share a similar trait in that it’s something we want to achieve in the future.

Many of us are familiar with SMART goals as a way to set goals for ourselves each year. There’s a reason this framework is so popular – it simply works!

Setting goals is one of the best ways to carve out your own unique career path. However, even the best goals can fall by the wayside without an action plan to actually achieve these goals.

First off, let’s review the SMART framework. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound and helps to create goals that are targeted to be completed within a certain timeframe.

Specific What do I want to achieve exactly?

Goals should be well-defined and focused. Instead of saying you want to increase your client base, say I want to add 20 new clients to my portfolio. Creating a specific goal can become a magnet and helps you focus on the end result.

Measurable How will I measure my progress, outcome or result?

Goals should have a measurable outcome so you can track your progress.

Achievable Is this goal realistic?

We’re big fans of dreaming big and failing small but it’s important to set goals that are within your reach. You can build on short term goals to help you achieve a longer term goal such as moving to a new industry.

Instead of setting annual goals, set weekly, monthly or quarterly goals to build on your accomplishments.

Relevant How does this goal help further my career aspirations?

Goals should be relevant and important. Adding 20 new clients to your portfolio will grow your business and increase your revenue.

Timebound When do I want to achieve this goal by?

If you’re busy responding to emails and client calls all day it can be easy to lose sight of your goal. Setting a time frame helps you develop a sense of urgency, makes it easier to prioritize the important vs the urgent and helps keep you on track.

Creating goals is actually quite simple. Accomplishing them is much harder (how’s that New Year’s resolution going for you?)

Action Plan

The missing step in goal setting is that it requires creating a plan to succeed. Establishing a roadmap of small achievable milestones literally creates a pathway for success.

Identify Your Main Goal

This could be to make a transition to a new industry or start a second career.

Identify the Actions Needed

If your goal is to move to a new industry or start a second career, there are specific tasks you will need to accomplish along the way. Lay out the steps in sub-goals. You may need to acquire industry specific knowledge by networking, taking a class or obtaining a certification.

Create a Checklist and Timeline

Create a checklist and a timeline for each of these actions and track your progress; set a timeframe to complete each action. This can be measured in accomplishing each of these smaller goals. Repeat each step for each sub goal until the larger goal is accomplished. Using a planner will help you set goals and track your progress. Download our free goal setting and planner here.

Evaluate and Recalibrate

Many people give up on a goal altogether if they miss a step along the way. If you miss a sub-goal or the actions you need to take have changed simply reset the timeframe and start again where you left off.

Reward Your Success

Give yourself a reward for achieving each sub-goal. This will keep you motivated for the long run and help keep your eye on the ball.

Download our free SMART Goals Action Planner that takes you through all the steps of setting SMART goals.

This article is part of our Career Moves series; advice and guidance to help you achieve your career aspirations.

Arche helps people architect, navigate and advance their career path with expert advice and tools to support your job search, interview preparation, professional branding, salary negotiations, and career advancement.

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