Setting goals is critical to your performance. You wouldn’t go through life without goals, goals like getting the rent paid, being on time for work the entire month, etc. Just like in life, setting goals at work, both short and long term, are important also. Learning to set “SMART” goals, analyzing your performance and modifying your techniques are all important to successfully setting your goals.


SMART Goals is an acronym for the important criteria for setting a successful goal. Specific – The goal should be specific, simple, and clear. Measurable – The goal should able to be measured, not vague or open ended. Achievable – The goal should be achievable, a challenge, but not impossible. Results focused – The goal should focus on the end result, not on number of sales, the amount of dollars spent, etc. Timely – The goal should have a fairly short end time, to allow for maximum performance.

  • S – Smart
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Results focused
  • T – Timely

Long-Term Goals

Setting long-term goals is a trait that will force you to focus on your performance, your motivation, your priorities, etc. Long-term goals are generally completed more than a year from now and force you to work to achieve them and are practiced by all successful people. Learning how to set effective long-term goals is a trait that can be easily learned and practiced.

The first step is to select the subject of your goal. Next, create a list of possible goals related to that subject. Ask yourself, what would you like to achieve in regards to this area? From this list determine which of these goals is the most important. Which ones may not be as realistic? Finally, take the key goal or goals and refine them into SMART goals. Make sure that they fit the criteria. 

Short-Term Goals

Long-term goals are good, for example, your five-year plan, but don’t forget the small, short-term goals that will get you to that five-year plan. Short-term goals are goals achieved in less than a year. These goals are usually easier to attain, and can be a stepping stone to the long term goal. But they can be completely unrelated too. Use the same SMART goal criteria as you did with the long term goals.

Do you have a subject in mind? I am sure you do. Whether it’s increase your sales by 5% within the next two months, or to cold call at least one client a day, write your short term goals down. Keep them handy so you can keep your focus on achieving them.

Track and Modify

You must keep current on your progress on your goals. Keep track of your progress, identify where you may need to put in a little more effort. If you fail to track your goals and your progress, you will probably lose interest, get distracted, or give up. Take pride in the progress you make and reward yourself.

Many times goals need to be modified to better fit the situation. It’s okay, goals are not laws. Let’s say that you change your job and you are now a sales person in the restaurant industry. It’s not going to be easy to keep your goals from the shoe business. That’s okay, don’t give up on your goal to climb the ladder, modify your goals to better fit your new career if that is where your interest lies.

Case Study

Harold is Julie’s manager. He asks Julie to set three SMART goals for the year, in regards to her job. He explained to her the acronym “SMART” goals. She sets her sales goals for the month. Once she had revised her goals to adhere to the SMART goal criteria, they wrote them down and put them in her personal file to be reviewed at the end of the month. He then explained to her the importance of setting both long and short term goals. He explained that it will keep her motivated to learn and achieve more in her career. She asked if they both need to be SMART goals also. He explained that all goals can use that format. 

A couple of weeks later, Harold sat down with Julie and they reviewed her goals and her progress on achieving those goals. They discussed putting a little more work into her cold calls to be able to stay on track. They are going to set an appointment for next week to check in again.