The SMART principle: set realistic career goals

The SMART principle: set realistic career goals

Today, there are less and less linear career paths and it must be taken in some cases considerable detours for their own careers in purchasing (z. B. common position or industry changes). Realistic career goals in professional life are therefore very important to keep long-term motivation and commitment and to react flexibly to unforeseen obstacles and setbacks.

How can realistic career goals are set?

One approach to realistic target formulation is the “SMART” principle ; thereafter should career goals especially

• possible specific ( S are) defined and divided into motivational milestones,
• measurable ( M ) be so reaching the (sub-) targets can be checked qualitatively and / or quantitatively,
• on concrete action options ( A ) oriented,
• realistic ( R ), ie on its own be able to
• and at a specified date ( T ) can be achieved.

An example:

Mrs X is working for several years in their division and now learns that another department next year a well paid and interesting place is filled. You want to apply for this job to be happy, but it lacks important to IT skills. For this reason, it sets out to search and found in a brochure of continuing training institution XY that there next month will be offered an appropriate price. Since the training is not too expensive and Mrs. X after work alongside the family still has enough time in this case would be a realistic part goal: “In two months I’ve acquired through the computer course with the skills I need to get me to apply for the job. ”

Benefits realistic career planning

When setting realistic career goals should especially their own skills and interests, but also the individual circumstances into account (eg. As partners and family, professional relations, labor market conditions, opportunities for advancement in the current operation). This can be avoided, that sense of achievement fail and / or conflicts with the environment occur. However, a basic prerequisite is accurate information, to weigh the pros and cons of various alternatives against each other (eg., greater job responsibilities vs. less leisure).

It is also important to put yourself in the above example not only rough objectives (eg. As secure job, high income, interesting activities, self-realization, Prestige), but also realistic sub-goals set. “Milestones” in the next one to three to set annual and proceed step by step (z. B. final exam, take after training in the foot, the acquisition of a separate project) is usually better than equal to target the dream job or the great career.For who is to high and unrealistic career goals, is only itself under pressure to succeed, which acts in the long term demotivating and debilitating. Also, on the way to distant locations always unforeseen circumstances arise (eg. As family-related changes, diseases, deterioration in working conditions in the industry), which prevent the desired results. The own objectives in terms of career should therefore be checked regularly to see whether they are at all desirable.


Realistic career goals promoting both the motivation and the performance, because the person then knows why he does something and can make reasonable hope of success. Those on the other hand to assess their own chances of success too high to get over time feel professionally running in place, or be frustrated because the targets can not be reached.

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