Setting Career Goals

Setting Career Goals

Whether you're ready for a change now or thinking about the future of your career, this article will help you in setting career goals.

Let’s look at how to structure any goal you set  to maximize your chances of succeeding and then we’ll look at some specific career goals to set for 2020. 

SMART Goal Setting

The SMART method helps ensure your success by turning your dreams into concrete goals.


S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Read on for how to put your goals into these terms.


Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

Specific Practical Example:

Imagine that you are currently an analyst and you’d like to become an analytics manager. A specific goal could be, "I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become an analytics manager, so that I can build my career and lead a successful team."


A good goal requires you to track your progress.

This helps you stay motivated by showing you how close - or far away - you are to your goal.

To make your goal measurable, ask yourself:

  • How can I quantify this goal? 
  • How will I know I've accomplished my career goal?

Measurable Practical Example:

You might measure your goal of acquiring the skills to become an analytics manager by determining that you will have completed the necessary training courses and gained the relevant experience within five years.


Is your goal realistic?

It should stretch your abilities, but still remain possible. 

To decide if your goal is achievable, ask yourself:

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?

Achievable Practical Example:

You might need to ask yourself whether developing the skills required to become an analytics manager is realistic, based on your existing experience and qualifications.

For example, do you have the time to complete the required training effectively?

Are the necessary resources available to you?

Can you afford to do it?

Another part of achievable goals is making sure that you have the power to make them a success.

For instance, don’t set a goal of “get a promotion”, set a goal of “get the experience and training that I need to be considered for that promotion"


This part of career goal setting is double checking that it’s valuable to you to have the goal. 

You should be able to answer “Yes” to these questions: 

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match with my other efforts/needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  • Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?

Relevant Practical Example:

You might want to gain the skills to become an analytics manager within your organization, but is it the right time to undertake the required training, or work toward additional qualifications?

Are you sure that you're the right person for the role?

Have you considered how much of a priority this is compared to your non-career goals? 


Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward.

If your career goal is longer term (over 6 months), think about what can you do in a month? a week? today? to move towards your goal. 

Time-bound Practical Example:

Gaining the skills to become an analytics manager may require additional training or experience.

How long will it take you to acquire these skills?

Do you need further training, so that you're eligible for certain exams or qualifications?

It's important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.

Career Goals for 2020

Now you know how to set smart career goals. let’s look at some career goals that would be particularly good for this year.

Long Term Goals

First think about your long term goals.

What do you want to accomplish in your career in 3-5 years?

It might be: 

  • Changing positions (promotions)
  • Changing careers
  • Moving into management
  • Starting your own business

Short Term Goals

Next, look at what’s reasonable to accomplish in the next year that moves you closer to your long term goals. 

Top Skills for 2020

Build new technology skills. 

Whether this is learning a new software, learning how to code, or developing more skills in a particular area, technology skills are a must. 

Improve your communication skills. 

No matter how skilled you are, if you can’t communicate well, you’re going to limit yourself.

And, on the plus side, this is a fantastic career goal that will also help you in all other areas of life. 

Build your network. 

Connect with more people in your company or in your field.

These connections can be extremely useful in helping you to grow and in helping you with potential new jobs in the future.

Get a certification. 

The best time to improve your skills and build your resume is when you’re not in the middle of looking for a new job.

A new job is a great goal to have - how can you make sure your resume will stand out when it’s time for you to start looking?