SMART goals

SMART goalsHave you ever set a goal to do something. like ‘get healthy’, ‘be happier’, or ‘become successful’?

If so, like most of us, you might have found these goals difficult to achieve. This isn’t only because being healthy can be tough! It’s also because these types of goals aren’t very good.

SMART Goals, on the other hand, are effective goals. A SMART Goal helps you clarify exactly what you want to achieve, and focus your efforts, ultimately making you more likely to succeed.

What does SMART stand for?

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Below, we’ll look at each of these in more detail, before finishing with some examples of SMART Goals.


An effective goal isn’t vague.  Making a goal specific makes it clearer and easier. For example, consider the difference between these three goals:

  1. ‘Become successful in my career.’
  2. ‘Secure some work experience.’
  3. ‘Secure a summer internship at an Engineering company.’

‘Become successful’ is far vaguer that ‘secure a summer internship.’ With the latter, it’s much clearer to know where to begin, and how to be successful. Generally, the more specific the goal, the easier it is to make it SMART.


A measurable goal is one where you have a clear way of tracking your progress. This is great for knowing when your goal is completed, and helping you stay motivated as you get closer to the finish line. A measurable goal considers questions like ‘how much?’, ‘how many?’, and ‘how will I know when I have achieved my goal?’ For example:

  • ‘Applying for internships’ isn’t clearly measurable. However, ‘finding and applying for three internships in the next two months’ is.


A goal that is really difficult is likely to fail. An effective goal is one that is attainable – in other words, it’s within your power to achieve it.

When considering this, ask yourself questions like ‘How can I accomplish this goal?’ You might consider what resources or tools you might use to help you. Also consider what other commitments or challenges might get in the way.

Let’s consider how we might evaluate the attainability of ‘applying for three internships in the next two months.’

  1. First, we might consider how long the typical application process takes, and what resources or tools we might use (e.g. online jobs boards or CV templates). Graduate recruiters advise that you should aim to spend approximately half a day completing one application, so we need to consider this.
  2. Next, we check if we have capacity in the next two months to spend at least half a day applying for each of the three internships. We might consider coursework deadlines and other commitments. We might choose specific days we will write applications.
  3. Having considered the goal and set aside the time, we can be confident that we have the adequate time and tools to complete our goal. Thus, in terms of time at least, it is attainable.


Relevant goals make sense with your wider goals and aspirations. For example, a goal to apply for three internships in the engineering industry is great if you want to be an engineer.

However, if you want to study a master’s in Advertising, you might consider if another goal would be more relevant to your future plans.


Finally, an effective goal should have a clear deadline. This provides focus and keeps you on track to  complete your goal. For example, it’s much easier to put off ‘get a job’ than it is to put off ‘get a job by summer (in three months).’

When setting a deadline, think small – ideally no longer than six months. Goals that can only be achieved in larger deadlines are usually too big to be truly SMART. Instead, try and break this big goal down into sub goals.


SMART Goals are effective goals. Mastering them can take time, but using them makes you much more likely to achieve what you want to do.

If you’d like to discuss your own SMART goals in relation to your career, you can book an appointment with one of our qualified career coaches.

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