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What are SMART goals?

What are SMART goals?


And how can I use them to advance my personal and professional aspirations?

Setting goals is a great way to keep organised and to set a road map for where you want to go , both in a professional and personal sense. Being a student is hard because there is so much to think about, whether it be assessments, physical health, financial health and then aiming towards the career that you want. You then have to set aside time and the resources so that you can make your way towards achieving them.

The best way to sort all that stuff out is through setting some goals that you want to achieve, but you have to make sure that you set the right goals for you. Setting goals isn’t something which comes naturally to many people, but using the SMART goals model can help make it easier.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART goals framework is used to set goals where each letter of SMART is an acronym. You can use these five acronyms to ensure that these goals work best so that you can achieve success in either your personal or professional life. Let’s say that you want to gain employment in your chosen field and that you are trying to figure out the best way to make that happen. Let’s go through the SMART goals framework to make that happen.


S stands for Specific. Ensure that you are setting goals with a specific aim so that it is easy to know what you are aiming for. For example, “I want to earn a position as a journalist in the print media industry.” That is very specific so you know what you want.


M stands for Measurable. Determine what metrics you can use in order to measure your progress. To help achieve finding a job as a print journalist, what do you need to do?

To determine this, you might need to set sub-goals such as “I will apply to three open positions for the role of a print journalist in the industry” or “I will seek three pieces of feedback from the hiring manager.”

Putting a measurable number onto the goal is important because it allows you to track your progress and see where you can make improvements to help reach your goal.


A stands for Achievable. Have you set goals that are both obtainable within the time frame and that are fully within reach? Having a goal that is achievable will keep you on track, focused and motivated, because you know you can get there.

As per the example, if you are applying for a job, then you will need to know what the job criteria is and what skills are required. Before striving for a goal, decide if it is achievable or if you need to do more to get into a better situation to get there such as learning more relevant skills. For our goal, say ““I will update my resume with the relevant qualifications, so I can apply to three positions for the role as a print journalist within the industry.”


R is up next and stands for Relevant. Each goal you set should align with your core values and aspirations. Why is the goal important to you and how does it contribute to your bigger plan in your life? If it doesn’t, have a think of what you want from your goal.

For our example of becoming a print journalist, say “The goal of becoming a print journalist can be linked to an aspiration to make a difference to the world, and it could also fit with one of your key skills, that of having a strong ability to communicate.” This goal is relevant to you because of your values and abilities.


Finally there is T, which stands for Time-based. What is the time you want to achieve your goal by? Depending on the goal, it could be long-term such as 6 months, such as saving up money for a car. Alternatively, it could be a daily goal, such as how many steps you walk or run per day.

For example, you may want to become a print journalist by the end of your first year out of university.

Putting an end-date on a goal keeps you motivated to keep going and get it done, because there is nothing better than ticking off something on your list. If you don’t achieve something within your timeframe, take a moment to ask why. It could have been an unrealistic timeframe, the goal might have been unachievable or you might have hit a few obstacles along the way.

Remember, goals can be anything that you want to achieve. They can be short term or very long term and it is entirely up to you what you want to do and how you do it. The greater your depth of understanding of goals and the drivers that lead to success, the greater control you have over the progress and completion of these same goals.

What to do now?

If you need some more help on setting goals, you can register for upcoming workshops, or enrol in the SMART goals lesson in the Charles Sturt Career Portal. Then finally, set some SMART goals for yourself and see how you go. To quote a Toyota ad that was run heavily during the Olympics, “You don’t have to be amazing to start, you just have to start to be amazing.”

This is an SSAF funded initiative
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