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If you’re working 40-hour weeks, you’re spending roughly a quarter of your adult life on the job. That is a sizeable chunk of your time, especially when you factor in the need to sleep.
As a result, you might be feeling that you’re drifting aimlessly through your work projects or that you’re overworked and getting stressed.
In this article, you'll learn how setting and SMART goals can help. Specifically, we'll go over a series of SMART goals examples for work that will allow to focus on what's truly important for your job.
Let's get to it.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are essential for ensuring personal growth and preventing you from feeling overwhelmed by a lack of direction or success. “SMART” is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.” These five aspects are what separate paltry plans from SMART goals. Work on these goals throughout your life; you’ll quickly see the difference in your personal and professional growth, as well as your motivation to learn and strive for success.
Here’s a brief overview of each aspect of a SMART goal.
A SMART goal is focused on a particular area of growth or expertise. When setting an objective, it helps to be as narrow as possible. This ensures that you always know exactly what you’re striving to achieve, rather than chasing a vague idea. In addition, by sticking to a single, specific goal, you can quickly grasp how to start planning to overcome the difficulties in reaching it. Keep specificity in mind by answering the questions “Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” and “Why?”
If you don’t have a quantifiable goal, then you really can’t tell how much you’ve grown from the beginning. Using metrics to measure your current ability and track it with a goal gives you a clear overview of whether you’re on track to reach the objective or what you might need to pull ahead.
Some goals can be measured simply by using things like timers or tracking software. Others will require more esoteric means to gauge whether you’ve improved. Regardless, it’s good to keep in mind that you need a measurable line of progress. Otherwise, the goal becomes too difficult to track, and you might settle for perceived growth and mediocre work.
One of the most significant pitfalls of planning is to “dream big.” This is one of the most quoted lines by motivational speakers and is always good to have in the back of your mind. However, it doesn’t help you get any closer to your dreams at this moment. A goal that is too big will have too many hurdles to overcome and steps to take, which makes it too easy to just procrastinate it away. By setting up an achievable goal, you’ll know that you can reach it.
The goal needs to apply to your current situation and long-term plans. This is usually by it improving some aspect of your work or job. Whether it’s developing better interpersonal skills or honing your craft, the possibilities are nearly endless. But it’s good to take a step back to see how specific SMART goals work to get you towards the bigger plan.
One of the most critical metrics for achieving goals is timeliness. By setting up a deadline or endpoint, you have created the motivation to see the project through and achieve the goal. Putting a time constraint also allows you to gauge your progress throughout.
Some goals will take a long time to complete, but it’s best to stick to something more straightforward and immediate at the start. This will allow you to work actively on getting it done and enable you to course-correct if necessary.
These five factors are what will separate a traditional goal from a SMART one. While working on a SMART goal, it’s helpful to start with a broader outline and narrow it down by applying each part of the process in turn. Now, you’re ready to start building up your SMART goals. If you want to learn more about what makes SMART goals work, read this “Ultimate Guide to SMART Goals.”
Why SMART Goals Are Important for Your Work or Job
As I’ve previously mentioned, we spend a significant portion of our lives on the job. Professional growth is a natural part of the process, but how you use SMART goals to organize and speed up this process is up to you. For example, perhaps you want to develop better communication skills and obtain that promotion you’ve longed for over the past year. Speaking of promotions, they are a big part of SMART goal planning, and you can even make getting a promotion an independent SMART goal.
By splitting your work processes or objectives into smaller chunks, you’ll quickly learn that tackling smaller goals is more manageable than taking on the bigger picture all at once. SMART goals allow you to prepare your day, learn new things, and grow more naturally, all in line with your current or future profession.
One of the best ways to develop goals for your work is to look at what you’re currently achieving throughout the day and ask yourself what you can do to improve.
For example, are you working long hours to prepare for next week’s projects and feeling stressed? Do you find yourself lacking sleep by going to bed too late? Figure out what’s setting you back from reaching your “dream big” goal by accumulating success with smaller ones.
It’s important to note the distinction between what a job gives you and what you give to the job. At its core, a job provides you with money. That fact of life isn’t going away soon, no matter how workplace movements strive to change their industries. So one of the more obvious ways to get more money and satisfaction out of your job is to advance through the ladder and develop new skills. As a person with improved job-specific and communication skills, this will make you more valuable on the job market, which can naturally lead to better work environments.
SMART goals can help you get more work done throughout the day by compounding small changes that you make in your daily life. They can also help you develop new skills indirectly by setting up timetables and schedules that promote active learning. By ensuring your job success, you can start to take steps towards improving your work-life balance and getting more free time for your family and hobbies.
There are far too many different industries and specific jobs (technician, personal trainer, digital marketer, etc.), to list goals for each one. Some examples might be more universal than others since they can apply to almost anyone, while others would need to be tailored to fill your specific needs and job requirements. Here are just a few examples to help you see how SMART goals can help in your everyday life.
23 SMART Goal Examples for Your Work or Job
1. Getting to Work on Time
“To ensure I get to work on time, I’ll start waking up half an hour earlier and leaving the house at least 15 minutes earlier than usual this month.”
S: This goal is very specific: to ensure you don’t arrive late to work.
M: Measurement for this kind of goal can be pretty straightforward. Since the goal is to arrive on time, calculate how many times you’ve arrived late in the month to gauge how much you need to improve.
A: This is one of the most achievable goals you can set. The changes to the regular routine are small and can be tweaked over time if needed.
R: The goal is directly related to your work performance, i.e., getting to work on time.
T: The time constraint is one month, which is perfectly acceptable for a SMART goal.
2. Improve Skills
“To get better at my job, I’ll focus on one of my skills to perform this job well. Then, I’ll complete an online course for that skill in the next three months. This will ensure I grow as a person and employee.”
S: While this goal might sound vague at first, it specifies that you’re improving a single skill. Let’s say that you want to learn to use Excel as an example. Learning more about Excel is very specific.
M: Measurement for the goal can be done through tracking services provided by the online course. For example, you can calculate how many classes you’ve completed.
A: Learning a new skill through a course doesn’t take too much extra time or prior knowledge.
R: This goal will be directly related to your work since you’re the one identifying what you need to improve.
T: The time constraint is three months. Considering this is an example, you can set the constraint to the online course’s recommended period. Whatever you do, make sure to stick to it and don’t give yourself too much leeway. While many online courses allow you to work gradually, it’s better to put a slightly more strained timeline to promote learning.
3. Work-Life Balance
“To spend more time with my family, I’ll reduce my overtime hours to five per week or one per day. I’ll do this for the entire month and re-evaluate afterward.”
S: This is a very specific goal in improving work-life balance by reducing overtime hours.
M: You can measure this goal easily by calculating how many overtime hours you have each week throughout the month. An alternate measurement that can be helpful is your impact on how much time you’ve spent with your family and your overall work performance. Working for longer might not always equal working more.
A: This can be an achievable task, provided your finances don’t suffer. This goal might require more fine-tuning to fit more situations, but that’s the beauty of developing SMART goals.
R: The goal ultimately relates to your work by developing habits that improve productivity and make for a better work-life balance.
T: The goal runs for one month, with a possibility to prolong it after.
4. Improve Finances and Freelance Work
“To improve my personal finances, I’ll finish at least one freelance project each week. This will enhance my monthly income by $X and allow me to grow my portfolio.”
S: The goal’s subject is to improve finances and experience through freelance work.
M: You can keep track of how many projects you finish each week and how much money you make.
A: This is achievable when freelance projects can be completed in spare time or over the weekend.
R: There are a few ways this improves your work. For one, freelance projects grow your hard skills and strengthen your portfolio. Also, the added income and decreased reliance on fixed work allow you to be more flexible.
T: You can keep a running tally of projects completed each week and total monthly income.
5. Improve Communication
“I will organize biweekly meetings with my colleagues throughout the month, each lasting no more than 30 minutes, to promote a better flow of ideas and provide for downtime from active work. This will improve communication within the team and allow everyone to stay on track with project requirements.”
S: The goal specifically aims to improve communication and teamwork within the organization.
M: You can track how many meetings are organized, how many colleagues participate in them, and how long they last.
A: Setting up half-hour meetings twice a week is a perfectly achievable goal.
R: Improving team-wide communication can directly improve productivity and office morale.
T: The goal lasts for one month.
6. Reduce Clutter
“To improve my productivity, I will take 10 minutes each day for the next two weeks to organize my files and personal data in my office and on the PC. This will allow me to keep track of projects and manage resource repositories.”
S: The aim is to improve productivity by reducing visual and informational clutter in the workspace, whether physical or digital.
M: You can easily measure out ten minutes each day. The less tangible part is productivity improvement.
A: The goal doesn’t take much time per day and is relatively easy to accomplish.
R: Decluttering can lead to developing better habits. Over time, you can start putting everything in its place naturally.
T: The goal ends in two weeks.
7. Become More Approachable to Colleagues
“I will invite one coworker a week for the next three months to join me for lunch to get to know them better.”
S: This is specific in that you specify inviting someone to join you for lunch.
M: You can easily know if you actually invite one person a week.
A: Asking a coworker to do something fun is easily done.
R: By doing this, you get a chance to connect with each coworker in a way you can't while working and this helps them trust you more.
T: Once a week for three months is a definite time period.
8. Improve Time Management Skills
“I will use a daily, weekly, and monthly planner to block out my schedule and projects and review it daily for the next six months to keep me on track with my goals.”
S: This specifies the type of planners you will use, the things you will use the planners for, and how you will keep track of your progress to stay on track.
M: Physical planners are easily reviewed to see if you are meeting deadlines and you can check off when you review them each day.
A: The goal is easily attainable in that you specify using and reviewing the planners, but don't specifically say state how well they will work until you attempt their use.
R: By blocking out time periods, you will have the ability to keep track of not only short-term (daily) tasks, but also projects that will need to be broken up and achieved over the long term. This will help you avoid procrastination and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
T: You specify using these for six months, which is a good period to be able to evaluate this method of time management.
9. Reduce Stress to Increase Productivity
“I will take a walk outside my workplace for fifteen minutes every two hours for the next three months to stretch and breathe fresh air in order to relieve stress.”
S: You make it clear what you will do and how often you will do it.
M: How long the walks will be and how often they will be is clearly stated.
A: As long as your workplace allows for breaks on this schedule, this is attainable. It can be adjusted to workplace regulations.
R: By getting away from the workplace, you have the chance to re-organize your thoughts and come back refreshed. This allows you to feel less overwhelmed, and less stressed both physically and mentally.
T: You specify how long, in this case, three months, you will do this.
10. Improve Group Speaking Skills
“I will attend monthly Toastmasters meetings over the coming year to help me communicate without anxiety when making presentations at meetings. ”
S: Joining a group that is made for improving public speaking skills is very specific, as is how often you will attend meetings.
M: It is easy to determine whether you have attended the meetings as planned and can measure your anxiety internally over time.
A: Scheduling time for the meetings is easy as they meet on a regular schedule, so it is simply a matter of setting aside that time in your monthly schedule.
R: By attending and presenting at the meetings, you will gain feedback and your confidence level will increase, making it easier to speak at work meetings.
T: You make this time specific by stating you will do this once a month for the period of one year.
11. Improve Overall Performance
“I will spend fifteen minutes each evening for a month reflecting in a journal on what went well during the day and what could use improving in order to make adjustments to my routine.”
S: You state exactly what you will do, when you will do it, and how you will do it, which makes this very specific.
M: Your performance reviews and the amount of time you save at work will all be measures of your success. Another measure will be an increase in the number of positive events in your journal and a decrease in the negative.
A: It is easy to find fifteen minutes a day for this activity and it requires no special tools. This makes it completely attainable.
R: By understanding what works and what doesn't, you have the chance to redirect your efforts and make daily routines work for in a more effective manner.
T: You specified you would do this activity every night for a month, which gives it a time limit.
12. Boost Leadership Skills
“I will take on a volunteer position to lead an upcoming project within the next three months in order to hone my leadership skills.”
S: This is specific in that it specifies what you will volunteer to do and why.
M: The project success and satisfaction of those under you during the duration of the project will measure your success.
A: This goal is attainable in that volunteering to lead the project is easy. This is especially true if you know there will be opportunities available.
R: Taking the lead on a project will allow you to see things from the leadership position and gather feedback throughout.
T: You specified that you would do this within the coming three months, which gives a reasonable timeline.
13. Increase Company Inclusivity
“I will initiate monthly lunches for the coming year with a guest speaker from one marginalized group to help employees understand differences in culture and abilities and make the workplace more inclusive.”
S: Stating you will have guest speakers from marginalized groups at a luncheon makes this specific.
M: The measurement of success will be noticed in how well the luncheons are received and the changes you may observe as people become more aware.
A: Arranging the luncheons and guests is completely achievable as long as company policy allows this.
R: By learning about different cultures and abilities, employees will achieve less fear of those who are different and see their similarities as well as appreciate how the differences add to the work environment.
T: Your specification of monthly for a year gives this a time factor.
14. Improve Mental Clarity/Focus
“Over the next six months, I will get at least eight hours of sleep five nights a week to combat sleep deprivation and fatigue and increase my ability to focus and think clearly.”
S: By listing what you will do (get eight hours of sleep) for so many days (five days a week), you make this a specific goal.
M: Keeping track of how often you manage the eight hours and how you feel the next day is completely measurable. If you also add a note to your calendar or journal each day, you can measure how clearly you thought after a night of sleeping eight hours.
A: Unless you have a sleep disorder, this goal is achievable.
R: Fatigue and sleep deprivation have been proven to cause you to lose focus, so this is one of the easiest ways to improve mental clarity and focus.
T: You specify doing this over a period of six months, which gives it a time limit.
15. Increase Customer Service Satisfaction
“I will reduce the call center wait time from two minutes to one minute over the next three months by adding six new staff members to the call center staff and having customers complete a survey of satisfaction after each call to see if the score on wait time improves.”
S: This is very specific in that it states what you will do, how you will do it, and within what time period you will achieve this goal. You also state why you are doing this.
M: Keeping track of how long each customer must wait to speak with a representative is easily measured with computer software. Having customers complete a satisfaction survey that includes wait time can also be used to measure satisfaction.
A: This goal is achievable in that you have control over the number of staff on duty and you can evaluate the performance of the employees, making changes where time is wasted.
R: Waiting for a person to answer questions or hear concerns is often one of the biggest complaints customers have so decreasing the time it takes for them to reach a person will definitely increase their satisfaction with customer service.
T: By giving yourself three months to hire six employees and get the rates down, you give yourself a time frame to achieve your goal.
16. Increase Professional Network
“I will arrange two lunches a week with professionals in my field as an opportunity to foster a relationship that will increase my professional network. These lunches will start happening next month and will continue for a period of one year.”
S: This is very specific. You state exactly what you will do and how often. You also make it clear what your purpose for doing this is so it can help keep your conversation on track.
M: You will be able to measure your progress by noting the lunches on your calendar and making sure you have two lunches scheduled each month.
A: This is attainable because it only requires making phone calls and reservations with individuals. The most difficult part will be making sure schedules match up.
R: People bond over food, so meals are a good way to make connections with people. Once you connect, it is easier to foster a growing relationship.
T: The mention of twice a month for the period of one year makes this completely time bound.
17. Become Known as an Industry Expert
“I will immediately set up a blog that will focus on my industry. I will create a posting schedule that includes a day for industry news, a day where I allow people to see the person I am outside of work, and a day devoted to questions and answers. This will require me to post at least three times a week and check in daily to answer questions and interact with those who comment. The question-and-answer day will give me directions for creating relevant e-books in my field a year from now.”
S: Stating that you are going to maintain a blog and committing to a specific posting schedule makes this very specific. An added plus is to mention what you will be using part of the posts for.
M: Having a schedule for writing makes this measurable. Following blog stats on at least a monthly basis and keeping track of the amount of reader interaction all make this measurable.
A: Blogging doesn't have to take a lot of time, so you can set aside a half hour or so every evening and this will make the goal completely achievable.
R: This is relatable to the goal of becoming seen as an expert in your field as you gradually build up a following.
T: The scheduled posts and the fact that you want to write the e-books in a year make this time bound.
18. Create a Mentor Program
“Within the next six months, I will propose that our company create a mentorship program that works with a local youth outreach organization. I will volunteer to run the program. This will include gathering volunteers, matching volunteers with a particular youth, and designing programs that will foster greater connections between the volunteers and their mentees. This trial will run for a period of one year and then be re-evaluated to see if it is successful enough to continue.”
S: This is amazingly specific. You express what you want to do, who will be involved, and how you plan on running the program. You also mention the why and build in a specific time for evaluation.
M: Measuring your progress will be easy. Measuring the success of the program may be more difficult, but you could make it happen by measuring the number of successful pairings made and how long each pairing lasted. You could also survey participants at the end of the trial period.
A: With the cooperation of the company decision-makers and enough volunteers as mentors, this is an attainable goal.
R: Successfully creating and running this program is very related to advancement in your career. You show initiative, as well as an ability to lead.
T: This is definitely time-bound. You specify that it will be in place within six months and that it will be evaluated after one year.
19. Launch Your Own Business
“Within one year, I want to venture out on my own and set up my own business. This will require me to have a business plan in place within a month so I can present my plan to possible investors. I will also need to find a good location and hire any necessary personnel. I plan on having the ribbon-cutting ceremony exactly one year from the first of this coming month.”
S: This is specific in that it mentions a timeframe as well as what needs to happen in order to complete the goal.
M: By creating a task list and checking off completed tasks, you can measure your progress toward the completion of the goal. By actually having the ceremony in one year, the goal is completely measurable.
A: As long as you stay on track, this goal is attainable.
R: Opening your own business is very relatable to a business growth mindset. This indicates a step forward and out of your current comfort zone.
T: This is definitely time-bound. You indicate how quickly you need to have a business plan created and exactly what day you are aiming for in regards to actually opening your new business.
20. Work with a Career Coach
“I need more direction on where I want my career to go. To help me get this in place, I will use the services of a career coach that I will reach out to within the next two months. I will work with this coach for a period of at least six months.”
S: What you want to do is specific to this goal. You are also specific about when it will occur and for how long. You might want to clarify the reason a bit more, but this will work.
M: By signing a contract with a business coach, attending sessions, and sticking with it, you can easily measure your success at completing this goal.
A: This goal is very attainable. It only requires reaching out and staying focused on attending sessions.
R: A business coach can help you realize whether or not you are on the best business path or if you would be better off switching gears. In any case, the coach can help you tap into your natural potential and teach you how to improve.
T: This goal is time-bound. You mention reaching out within two months and sticking with it for at least six.
21. Learn About Other Departments
“I would like to become more familiar with the workings of all the other departments in the company. To this end, I will speak with each department head and ask for a tour of their department and the opportunity to sit in on one of their staff meetings. I will do this at the rate of one department a month until I have covered each department.”
S: You speak of the specific actions you will take and state why. You also mention how you will go about achieving this goal. All of this makes the goal specific.
M: By keeping track of each department, you tour and each meeting you attend, you will be able to measure your success at completing this goal.
A: As long as the department heads agree to your request, there is no reason this goal would not be attainable.
R: By increasing your knowledge of the entire company, even slightly, you demonstrate your willingness to learn. A good leader is familiar with all areas of operations, so this goal is directly related to advancing your career.
T: By stating you will work with one department a month until every department is covered, you make this goal time bound.
22. Give Back to the Community
“This next holiday season, I will work with my supervisor to reach out to community organizations that deal with underprivileged families. Our purpose will be to collect stars for our annual Christmas tree that contains the names and needs of families. Employees will be encouraged to choose a star and adopt that family for the holiday. For those who don't want to actually purchase food/gifts, I will create a fund, especially for donations. We will then invite the families that are sponsored for a holiday dinner and distribution party.”
S: This goal is extremely specific. It mentions who you are working with, how you plan on setting things up, when it will take place, and how it will end.
M: By writing a step-by-step plan and checking things off, you can measure the progress of setting things up. You can also keep track on something like a spreadsheet, of the families needing sponsors and those who can sponsor.
A: With cooperation from coworkers, this is an attainable goal.
R: A successful event will get your company name into public view. So will word of mouth. You will also be giving back to the community in a major way. Finally, making this event a successful one demonstrates your ability to lead and plan.
T: Considering that the event surrounds a holiday, it is definitely time-bound.
23. Foster Team Collaboration
“In order to make team members more willing to work with each other, including asking for advice when necessary and being open to suggestions from others, I will hold weekly staff meetings on Monday mornings. At these meetings, everyone will be encouraged to discuss what they are working on and ask for input from other department workers. At the end of three months, we will have an evaluation meeting where everyone can voice their opinion as to whether these meetings have helped or not.”
S: Stating when the meetings will take place and what will be discussed makes this goal specific. So does the mention of an evaluation after three months.
M: All it takes is to make sure the meetings are held in order to make this goal measurable.
A: While you can't force employees to speak up, the goal of holding the meetings and giving everyone the opportunity to do so is attainable.
R: By learning that they can rely on each other, the goal of fostering greater cooperation among employees is directly related to achieving greater business success.
T: You specify when the meetings will take place and you place a three-month period before evaluation. All of this makes this a time-bound goal.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Your Work or Job
Developing SMART goals can lead to improved productivity and better work-life balance. The options you have for tackling your workload are limitless. Investing a bit of time into learning new things or improving your organizational efficiency can pay dividends in the long term and give you that promotion you’ve been working towards.
And if you want more SMART goal ideas and examples, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 11 SMART Goals Examples for a Job Promotion
- 15 SMART Goals Examples for Your Nursing Career
- 6 SMART Goals Examples for Finance Managers
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.