SMART Goals: Definition And Examples

Updated 3 April 2023

Goal setting is a helpful way to build the career you want. By setting objectives and creating a clear roadmap for how you will reach your intended target, you can decide how to apply your time and resources to make progress. Without goals, it can be difficult to determine how to get a certain job, promotion or other milestones you want to achieve.

When you set an objective for yourself, you should include each step necessary for success. To help, you can use a framework called SMART goals. Here is how SMART goals work and a few tips and examples to assist you in your goal-setting efforts.

  1. What are SMART goals?

  2. Why should I use SMART goals?

  3. Examples of SMART goals

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

What Are SMART Goals?

A SMART goal is a carefully planned, clear and trackable objective. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based.

S = Specific

Be as clear and specific as possible with what you want to achieve. For example, instead of saying “I want to be in leadership you might say, “I want to earn a position managing a development team for a start-up tech company.” The more narrow your goal, the more you will understand the steps necessary to achieve it.

M = Measurable

What evidence will prove you are making progress towards your goal? For example, if your goal is to earn a position managing a development team for a start-up tech company, you might measure progress by the number of management positions you have applied for and the number of interviews you have completed. Setting milestones along the way will give you the opportunity to re-evaluate and course correct as needed. When you achieve your milestones, remember to reward yourself in small but meaningful ways.

Related: Hard Work vs. Smart Work: Definitions, Comparison and Tips

A = Achievable

Have you set an achievable goal? Setting goals you can reasonably accomplish within a certain timeframe will help keep you motivated and focused. Using the above example of earning a job managing a development team, you should know the credentials, experience and skills necessary to earn a leadership position. Before you begin working towards a goal, decide whether it is something you can achieve now or whether there are additional preliminary steps you should take to become better prepared.

Related: How To Write an Action Plan (With Template and Example)

R = Relevant

When setting goals for yourself, consider whether or not they are relevant. Each of your goals should align with your values and larger, long-term goals. If a goal does not contribute towards your broader objectives, you might want to rethink it. Ask yourself why the goal is important to you, how achieving it will help you and how it will contribute towards your long-term goals.

Related: Tips on How To Work Hard for a Successful Career

T = Time-based

What is your goal time frame? An end-date can help provide motivation and help you prioritise. For example, if your goal is to earn a promotion to a more senior position, you might give yourself six months. If you have not achieved your goal in that timeframe, take time to consider why. Your timeframe might have been unrealistic, you might have run into unexpected roadblocks or your goal might have been unachievable.

Related: Top 11 Useful Skills To Learn For Career Development

Why Should I Use SMART Goals?

Using the SMART goal framework sets boundaries and defines the steps you will need to take, resources necessary to get there and milestones that indicate progress along the way. With SMART goals, you are more likely to achieve your goal efficiently and effectively.

Here are a few examples of how SMART goals can benefit people in different circumstances.

  • Lata would like to change careers from customer support to design…

  • Avi knows that his goal is to become a sales manager but he is not sure where to begin…

  • Tanya wants to get a job in the healthcare industry but does not have industry experience…

Related: SMART Goals For Improving Communication Skills: A Guide

Examples Of SMART Goals

Here are two smart goal examples.

Example 1

I will obtain a job as a school math teacher within three months after graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Education.

  • Specific: The goal of becoming a high school math teacher is well-defined.

  • Measurable: Success can be measured by the number of applications, interviews and job offers.

  • Achievable: The goal setter will have the appropriate degree for the job.

  • Relevant: The goal setter is planning to get a job in the education industry after getting an education degree.

  • Time-based: The goal setter has set a deadline to achieve their objective within the three months following graduation.

Example 2

I will earn a promotion to senior customer service representative by completing the required training modules in three months and applying for the role at the end of the next quarter.

  • Specific: The goal setter has clearly set the objective to be promoted to senior customer services representative.

  • Measurable: Success can be measured by training module completion, filing the application and earning the promotion.

  • Achievable: The goal setter will complete the training necessary to earn the promotion.

  • Relevant: The goal setter is planning to apply for the promotion after finishing their training modules.

  • Time-based: The goal setter has set a deadline to achieve their objective at the end of the following business quarter.

Setting SMART goals can help you move forward in your career and achieve the success you want. While goals can be challenging, using the SMART framework can organise the process and provide structure before you begin.


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