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How to Set Goals at Work

Jun 8, 2020
(updated: Dec 5, 2022)
Max 5 min read

Setting goals at work is an important step to help you move up within a company and to help you work towards obtaining new skills. By setting goals at work you can continue to level up your career gaining more money, flexibility, and clout.

Without setting goals, it is challenging to get promoted, show your value and worth, and know what you’re actively trying to obtain. 

By mapping out a plan of what you want to accomplish in your next job, you can use your current job to gain the skill sets needed to reach that next step. For example, if you’re currently working in SEO and want to become a content strategist and writer, you can find opportunities within your current role to build out your resume to achieve your dream job.

Goals should be revisited at a regular cadence to see what you’ve accomplished, what needs to be adapted, and what are your next steps to continuing on pace. In this article we discuss SMART goals and if you're interested in learning other techniques, check out our Objective Strategies Tactics (OST) Document for Goal Setting [Template Download] or our SWOT analysis templates.


SMART goals are one of the most prominent ways of setting goals. SMART goals stand for: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Sensitive

You’ll see many different types of acronyms for SMART goals, but they all generally have similar meanings. 

Specific Goals

Specific goals are those that lay out exactly what wants to be obtained. Some things you should consider when making specific goals are the 5 W’s. Who, what, where, when, and why. 

Who’s involved? What do you want to accomplish? Where will this take place? When will it be completed? And why do you want to accomplish this goal?

Below, I’ve listed some examples of specific goals. There are many different ways of making specific goals, some more detailed than others.

  • Earn $100,000 in Revenue 
  • Work 20 Hours per week
  • Grow my business to have three clients with revenue above $100,000 by the end of the year without exceeding 25 hours of work to maintain a work-life balance.

I also want to list a few non-specific goals, to help show the importance of identifying something specific. 

  • Get better at work
  • Help my company
  • Learn more

Measurable Goals

Measurable goals are those that can be measured and tracked. As we noticed in the last section, non-specific goals can’t be adequately measured. 

If you’re trying to set a goal around ‘helping your company’ make it a more specific goal by laying out the different areas you want to be measured. Some examples of measurable goals are below: 

  • Increase my company revenue by $______
  • Decrease external spending by ________%
  • Increase site traffic by ______%

Some goals will be measured by whether or not they’re completed instead of by dollar or percent change. For example: 

  • Complete Google Analytics Certification
  • Build a personal website for my consulting business
  • Schedule one networking meeting per week


Making sure you create an attainable goal will make it more likely that you will succeed. It will take wisdom to find a balance between pushing yourself and doing something that isn’t realistically achievable. 

When setting work goals, you can get a gut check between what’s feasible and not. It’s all on a spectrum, so use your wisdom and the data you have available to set an achievable goal. 

More likely to be achievable: 

  • Increase traffic to your site by 20%
  • Increasing site revenue by 15%

Less likely to be achievable: 

  • Quadrupling revenue in 9 months
  • Becoming the first company valued at a billion dollars after the first year

Setting achievable goals will help you succeed when setting goals for work.


Relevant goals are especially important when setting work goals. When you’re trying to grow within a company, setting a goal that is important to the priorities of the company is paramount. 

Listen to what leadership is saying regarding their goals and see if what you want to accomplish can support the overarching goal. 

If increasing revenue is the most important thing, how can you create a goal that accomplishes your professional goals with those of the company? There are many ways that a company can go about increasing revenue, some may have a more measurable and direct impact. Improving company culture is one example that can be tied back to increasing revenue, but it is not as a direct impact as adding more service offerings and putting energy into lead generation. 

Time Sensitive

The last consideration in SMART goals is that they must be time-sensitive. You want to ensure that you have an idea of when your goal will be accomplished, or have a timeline that lays out the steps of accomplishing the goal.  

It can be incredibly challenging to set a time limit to your goal, especially if it’s a newer goal that you’re less comfortable with and don’t know all the steps that will be involved. 

It can be incredibly challenging to set a time limit to your goal, especially if it’s a newer goal that you’re less comfortable with and don’t know all the steps that will be involved.

You can also try to use time tracking tools. They will help you keep track of time spent on a particular task and reduce the cognitive workload you face.

Examples of Personal Development Objectives for Work

Finally, we want to outline some examples of personal development objectives for work. Using the structure above, we’ve outlined different areas to consider. 

  • Improve your public speaking skills by presenting at least one presentation per month in front of an audience
  • Build a network and commit to attending one event per month, and having a coffee chat with someone in your network per month
  • Improve listening skills by reading 1-3 books on listening and outline some of the exercises that are included
  • Implement a time-saving system by creating a process for meeting management and track the amount of time saved per meeting

Each of the goals listed above is an example of how you can personally grow and develop at work. Remember, there are an infinite amount of goals you can set that are measurable and will help you grow in your career. You have to decide which ones are best for you.

If you're interested in more examples check out this article we wrote on our favorite personal and professional goals.

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