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SMART Goals for Career Development Examples

January 25, 2024

Where would you like to be in your career a year from now? Do you have a plan to get there? If you plan to wait for a higher-up to retire to Fort Wayne or a golden opportunity to come along, you're leaving your professional career to fate and luck. Fortunately, you can use a more active approach to developing your career by setting SMART goals and working to achieve them. 

SMART goals are an effective way to make use of the scientifically proven power of goal setting to reach your career potential[1]. Get more control of your career with the five SMART goals for career development examples we provided below.

What are SMART Goals? 

SMART goals refer to the method that helps define the objectives and plans necessary to advance your career development. By clearly defining and qualifying what you intend to achieve, you can increase your ability to accomplish it. This is why each letter in SMART stands for an essential rule in this goal-setting method. Here is the breakdown.

"S" = Specific

Refine your goals by describing them in as much detail as possible. For example, instead of setting a broad goal to become a retirement fund expert, be more specific and plan to take and complete a 60-hour exam prep course in Gary for a Series 6 license[2]. After passing the exam and getting your Series 6 license, you'll have succeeded in achieving a clear, tangible goal.

"M" = Measurable

Select a goal you can track by numbers or some other measurement form. Your goal could be getting 100 new investing club members in a quarter or advancing four levels on your company's performance chart. Whatever measure you choose, you can better calculate your progress and know when you have reached your goal.

"A" = Achievable

Your goal can be challenging but must be achievable to qualify as a SMART goal. Before you accept a goal, you should determine whether you have enough ability, experience, and resources to help you reach your goal. Smaller goals are more manageable.

"R" = Relevant

Ensuring your goals support your mission to improve your career is essential. To be worth your time and effort, they must help propel you to your ultimate career goal.

"T" = Time-Bound

It is easy to put off striving toward a goal when it doesn't have a deadline or end date. You can boost your ability to reach your goals if you place them on a schedule with benchmarks[3].

Why SMART Goals are Important for Career Development

Legendary Notre Dame football head coach Lou Holtz once said[4], "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it." If you believe that you control 90% of your destiny, you are then responsible for the work necessary to make great things happen in your career. 

By setting your SMART goals, you are putting yourself on notice that you are ready to take your career to the next level, using a step-by-step, trackable, and accountable plan. They will also help you stay focused, disciplined, motivated, and informed of your progress. Plot your own course by using SMART goals as a tool. "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it."

5 Examples of SMART Goals for Growing your Career

You can use these SMART goals for career development examples for any field, from banking to law enforcement. They can serve as a model that you can adjust to suit your SMART goal-setting needs.

1. Take a Leadership Improvement Course

You may be highly skilled in your work specialty, such as in money market funds or quantum computers. However, if you intend to advance to a management or senior office position, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone and groom yourself for leadership. 

To assume a new leadership role, you can set a SMART goal of leading the next available team project after completing a leadership-building course in three months. Such courses are available online and on-campus in schools across Indiana. Even seasoned leaders like PepsiCo Foods CEO Steven Williams attend on-campus leadership development programs[5]. So, consider attending an in-person leadership-building program to learn from your peers and network.

2. Improve Public Speaking Skills

Becoming a better public speaker can boost your effectiveness or potential as a leader in your organization. By having the ability to clearly express your ideas and points to groups of all sizes, you can sway more coworkers to support your causes. You can start your mission to become a better public speaker by attending monthly Toastmasters meetings. Set a SMART goal to attend meetings regularly for the next six months.

After months of honing your public speaking skills, test your improvement by volunteering to present at the next division meeting. Then, take every opportunity to speak before superiors, clients, and stakeholders.

By setting your SMART goals, you are putting yourself on notice that you are ready to take your career to the next level, using a step-by-step, trackable, and accountable plan.

3. Grow Your Professional Network

You may feel more comfortable socializing with your current coworkers and friends. However, expanding your professional network can help your career advancement. 

For this reason, use the next six months to develop relationships with important people in your field, one at a time. Set a SMART goal to develop ten new business relationships. You can do this through lunch dates, golf matches, invites to dinner, or any opportunity to get to know the person better.

4. Become a Reliable Source of Industry News and Standards

You can become the person everyone in the company comes to for your industry's latest developments and rule changes. For example, if you work in finance, you can be a go-to source for updates on investing and savings account offerings across the industry.

To do this, set a SMART goal to make gathering relevant information a daily habit. For the next month, subscribe to industry monthly magazines, attend industry seminars, and try new podcasts. Also, develop connections to industry insiders by email or phone. Once you have all your sources, prepare to make your information gathering an ongoing practice.

5. Address and Improve Your Weaknesses

Everyone has weaknesses, but reaching your career goals may depend on how you deal with specific shortcomings. For this SMART goal, list your career weaknesses. Choose one weakness improvement project per month from this list to strengthen it until you've improved upon each and every one.

Achieving success in your career starts with setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. These SMART goal career development examples will help you meet these requirements. They also provide the framework for you to chart your path to career growth, regardless of your field. In addition, SMART goals can help you improve your financial future. Visit to see how we can help your financial journey. Your next SMART goal could be to improve your saving and spending habits.