There’s no denying it - you’re exceptionally smart, gifted, and talented. In fact, your teachers, colleagues, family, or friends think that you’re one of the brightest people they’ve ever interacted with. Honestly, your intelligence even impresses yourself most times. It’s not your intelligence that’s in question - so what is?


The main question may be this - how SMART are your career goals? If you keep reading, I guarantee that you’ll walk away with some ideas on how to get cut through the blurriness of the opportunities that you’re looking at and get clearer on what you want out of your career and perhaps even out of life. Ready to focus?



S - Specific: It’s time to get specific. You may be thinking - that takes tons of work and you don’t have the time to do this, but may I graciously challenge you to think about the fact that you can’t afford NOT to take this valuable time and get the clarity you deserve. It’s time to get specific.


Let’s say for example that one of your career goals is to develop your leadership skills. That is a great start, but a SPECIFIC goals takes this idea to the next level that may seem a bit granular to you, but is super-helpful. What do you mean by “leadership skills”? Are these communication skills? Reading? Writing? Listening? Speaking? Persuading? Team building? etc. What specific leadership skills do you want to develop? Be smart and get specific.


M - Measurable: 'Measurable' answers the question, 'how will you measure your progress?' A test of measuring means that someone from the outside (a coach, consultant, or friend, for example) could observe your progress. For example, one way to measure your progress in your career are the skills that you’re learning. Maybe you want to learn sales techniques or project management skills - whatever the case, you want to be sure that you have a clear measure of what you hoping to achieve. Think numbers. Think time. Think objectives. Make it measurable and it is way more likely to get done.


A - Attainable: Okay, so you have your specific goal and it's measurable, but is it doable? Can you actually attain it? For many of you, making a trip to the moon this year is not an attainable goal! Setting goals that are just outside of your ability can be a good strategy. Generally, I tend to recommend to strive to increase your goals by what you think you can do by about 20%. In other words, make the 80% mark of the goal doable, but make 100% of the goal achievement more challenging -- this stretches and grows you into the professional that you want to become! Always articulate attainable ambitions to accomplish your goals.


R - Relevant: Ask yourself this question, "How do career goals, align with my long-term vision, mission, or core values?" Can you easily explain the connection to a friend or family member? Great! You're golden. If you can't explain it, you may want to dig deeper and unearth this connection. Some starting points may be to answer questions like - at your funeral, what do you want people to say about you? what are the things that are the most important to you that have impacted your big decisions in life so far? What are the types of things that you wish you could every single day? By making your career goals relevant, you’re supercharging your motivation levels with nitromethane.


T - Time-Specific. While I personally tend to gravitate away from deadlines, I mean, who wants to associate with something that includes the word "dead" in it, right? Setting time-specific goals, or goals with deadlines is empowering because you know that at a specific time you're going to come back, reassess, and celebrate your progress. Many of you will meet your deadlines. Some of you, those of you with more aggressive goals, may find these deadlines as refreshing, because you can reset your entire goal. Anyway you slice it, be specific about the timing of your career goals.


What about you - what is at least one career goal that you are setting for yourself to achieve in the next 90 days? What resources do you need to get there?