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How to Set Goals at Work

Updated on September 4, 2012
Concrete, measurable goals will help you achieve success at work
Concrete, measurable goals will help you achieve success at work

Setting concrete, measurable goals in the workplace can be the difference between a good and bad performance review at the end of the year. Have you ever set a goal, but you were unable to prove that you achieved that goal? We often set general goals that do not show measurable growth or measurable results.

Using the SMART Goal method (Specific, Measurable, Obtainable, Relevant, Timely), you can create goals that will showcase your work and prove your value to the company.

SMART Goals

S = Specific

The first characteristic of a SMART goal is to make it specific. You want to be as specific as possible without setting yourself up for failure. State what you are going to do, why it is important, and how you are going to do it.


M = Measurable

It is extremely important that your goal is measurable. This is how you will PROVE that you accomplished your goal. If you state that you will increase output by 10%, secure five contracts, or decrease errors by three incidents, you can easily prove that you did or didn't achieve your goal with hard proof. Make sure, however, that you do not set a measurable goal that you cannot achieve. The numbers must be realistic.

A = Attainable

When setting a measurable goal, it is very important that it is attainable. Make sure that your work load for the review period supports you goal (i.e., you are working on projects that will make your goal attainable). If you are unsure that you will attain a certain number or percentage, lower it to a number that you are comfortable with (and then wow your manager when you exceed it!).

R = Relevant

Review the company goals and the goals of your work group prior to setting your personal goals to ensure that they are relevant to your company's culture. Showing that you personally contributed to a higher goal set by the company is impressive!

T = Timely

Review the timeline of your review period to ensure that your goal can be reached. If necessary, break a goal for a large time period into smaller time frames to ensure completion (e.g., by the end of each month I will...).

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