There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please do your own research before making any online purchase.
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 on SMART goals, work efficiency and self-improvement are the keys to success.
(Side note: One of the best ways to get what you want from life is to create and set SMART goals. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.)
What You Will Learn
- What Are SMART Goals?
- Why SMART Goals Are Important for Your Work or Job
- 6 SMART Goal Examples for Your Work or Job
- Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Your Work or Job
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 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.
6 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.
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.
If you want to find out more about SMART goals for job leaders, check out this post.
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.