SMART goals for Your New Year’s Resolutions & Your Career

It’s that time of year where many of us make New Year’s resolutions and maybe, just maybe, you’re still determined to carry on with them now that we’re nearing mid-month. That’s great! Goal setting can be a wonderful tool to achieve those resolutions provided it’s done well. It’s fine to say you’re going to lose weight or get a promotion at work, but often this doesn’t get the job done. Why? Well, that’s probably another whole article but mostly it’s because they’re too vague with no real plan behind them. Using the SMART goal model can turn this around and make those plans a reality.


First off, what is a SMART goal? SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Creating a goal with this framework in mind creates a stronger roadmap to your target. So let’s break it down a bit further….

Specific. Be as clear and, well, specific as you can about your goal. The narrower you make it the easier to break down the steps you need to take to reach it.

Measurable. How will you determine you are making progress? What evidence will you use? For example, say you want to get a new job as a marketing manager in a tech development company. You could perhaps measure your progress by how many resumes you send out. Setting milestones will help show your progress, or not and then allow you to re-evaluate or correct your course. By the way, when you hit a milestone, reward yourself in some way. This process and progress should be fun, too!

Achievable. Can the goal be accomplished within a certain timeframe? If so, you’ll be able to remain motivated. If not, revisit the goal. Can it be broken down into smaller, more achievable goals? Is it specific enough?

Relevant. Your goal should align with your larger goal(s) as well as your values. If it doesn’t contribute to your larger goal(s), you may want to rethink or abandon it for something worth spending your time on.

Time-based. What is your time frame? When do you want to achieve it by? Maybe you want that position within six months. Having an end point will keep you focused. If you find you’re reaching your deadline and you’re not close to your goal, take time to consider why. Maybe the goal was too large hence not achievable. Maybe you hit unexpected roadblocks. Re-group and set new goals or timeframes or whatever correction you need to stay on task.


Writing SMART goals can be tricky sometimes, but don’t overthink it too much. Just make sure your stated goals meets each of the SMART criteria.

Here’s an example: I will obtain a job as a Human Resource Generalist within three months of graduating with my Bachelor’s in Human Resources.

Is this goal SMART? Yes. The goal of becoming a Human Resource Generalist is well-defined thus specific. Success can be measured by the number of interviews, job offers, etc. It is achievable because the person will have the appropriate degree for the job. It is relevant because the goal setter wants a job in human resources after graduating with a degree in human resources. It is time-based as the person set the goal to be completed in three months.


Your stated goal needn’t be lengthy or detail every objective or step along the way. Don’t confuse the process needed to achieve your goal with the goal itself. Your SMART goal can be just a sentence or two.

Don’t forget to make your local career center part of your goal planning. We can help with resumes, cover letters, training, and more!

What are your New Year’s resolutions or career goal for this year? Let us know in the comments.

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