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Setting Smart and Attainable Career Goals

November 9, 2020

Setting Smart and Attainable Career Goals

Are you in the process of advancing your career or upgrading your professional credentials? Do you have a certification exam or language proficiency test that you are preparing forYou may be feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of accomplishing your goals. Rest assured that it is completely normal to feel nervous or anxious about making a change in your career or striving for a new measure of success. One of the most concrete things that you can do to help yourself is to set smart and attainable goals for yourself. So, what does that look like in practice? SMART goals are an excellent place to start. 

What are SMART Goals? 

Simply put, SMART is a mindful acronym that can help you achieve your career or educational goals. The acronym stands for: 

  1. Specific 
  2. Measurable 
  3. Achievable 
  4. Relevant 
  5. Time-based 

These five core elements are often credited to management consultant and educator Peter Drucker. Following the outlined list of criteria can set you up to succeed with attainable and mindful goals  When setting goals, one of the major hurdles that many people face is being too vague or unspecific. Trying to advance your career is a nice thought, but what are the exact stepping stones that you need to have? Secondly, many people forget to make their goals measurable. Your goals should be concrete so that you can easily tell if you are on the right track or if you need to make an adjustment. Many students and professionals also struggle to set achievable goals that are within reach. Setting impossible goals can have a negative effect on your confidence and motivation. When your goals are achievable, you are more likely to succeed and build up your confidence over time. Your goals should also be relevant to your passion and your values. Lastly, setting deadlines is key for your success. SMART goals are time-based, which means that you allocate a certain amount of time for yourself. By having a deadline, you can increase your motivation and drive. Of course, if you are unable to meet your original deadline, there is no need to be hard on yourself. Simply adjust your goal and keep pushing ahead. 

Professional Accreditation 

When you are setting career goals, it is vital that you consider the qualification standards and expectations within your field. What standards are your colleagues aiming for? What are the expectations of hiring managers in your industry? You should also consider professional accreditation and the many doors that it can open for you. Taking a professional certification exam through ATS is an excellent option to consider. 

Thinking Ahead 

In addition to setting SMART goals, many professionals recommend having set goals with various timelines, be that one year, five years or ten years from now. Having varied deadlines can help you to stay motivated and inspired, while you work towards your career or educational goals. Try to work towards long term career planning and goal setting for maximum benefit. Plan out projects or goals that are varying in length based on your aspirations and strengths. 


Wherever you are at in your career or your educational journey, you deserve the opportunity to continually advance your career and achieve your aspirations through logical and succinct goals. Set yourself up for success by choosing smart and attainable career goals with an emphasis on clarity and thoughtful planning. 

Written by CJ McGillivray