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Career Coach: Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal

Career Coaching SKillsA very significant component of my coaching practice is goal setting. In order to reach a goal, one has to set them.

Recently, I was working with a client who was concerned about her finances. She said that she wasn’t being paid enough, and I asked her how much she needed to make to feel comfortable. Her response, “That’s a good question. I should know that, shouldn’t I? I can’t believe I don’t know that!”

And then we figured it out. It’s easier to achieve a goal when you know what the goal is.

The key to goal setting is making a S.M.A.R.T. goal. If you’ve been to business school (or worked in a consulting firm), you likely know what this is. If not, let me introduce you to the rosetta stone of effective goal setting (most frequently attributed to Peter Drucker).

S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Let’s walk through these.

A specific goal is quantifiable. Losing weight is a goal, losing ten pounds is specific. Writing a novel is a goal, writing an outline and the first 75 pages by December is specific.

A measureable goal means there is a metric that you can use to see if you have achieved the goal. See above. You’ll know you’ve achieved the goal when X happens.

Attainable means that this is something that you can realistically do. You can make this happen; it is within the realm of possible. You have the time and the capacity to make this happen. If I really wanted to shake Hilary Clinton’s hand, I’m pretty sure that with the right amount of time and effort I can make that happen.

Relevant. Is this goal connected to something bigger in the world, in your family? Does it matter in your world, and in the grand scheme of things? Do I really care if I shake Hilary’s hand? I don’t. So it’s probably not going to happen because I’ve got other things I’d rather do. Anyone can run a marathon if they put in the time and effort. But is it relevant for you right now?

Time-bound means that you give yourself a time limit. Nothing motivates like a deadline. I could lose 10 pounds in 3 months. I could not lose 10 pounds in one week (healthfully, at least). And sure, I could definitely lose 10 pounds in a year, but at some point it will stop being relevant.

If there’s something you want to do, see if you can set a S.M.A.R.T. goal to get it done. And if you’re curious about whether or not it’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal, email me. I’d love to see what you’ve come up with.