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Developing a S.M.A.R.T. Career Plan

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Whether you are choosing a first career or changing careers, you need a career plan. After carefully assessing your Skills and Talents and defining your Unique Selling Proposition, you should now be ready to identify the industry and specific occupations that you are interested in. Finding the best career opportunity is the ultimate goal of your career plan. Personal development and goal setting experts have determined that the best way to achieve any goal is to be S.M.A.R.T. about it.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for a goal achievement process that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. The concept is derived from the pioneering work of management guru Peter Drucker. The idea is founded upon the belief that goals are more likely to be achieved if they are precisely defined. Rather than saying I’m going to buy a new car, an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be I am going to buy a 2014 Lexus LS Hybrid for less than $120,000 by December 3rd 2014.

This goal of buying the Lexus is specific because it identifies an exact year, make and model of car. We can measure whether the goal is attained by whether I am able to acquire the vehicle below the specified price. By setting an exact date, I am challenging myself to follow the necessary plan that is required to achieve the goal. Yet when it comes to your career plan, there are a few additional considerations.

Specific

There may be some preliminary steps that you need to take on the road to obtaining your ultimate job. You might have to earn your Bachelor’s degree first and start out as a kindergarten teacher’s aide on the path to becoming a college professor. Nevertheless, you should seek to identify your ultimate career ambition rather than a short-term job objective. The various jobs and educational pursuits that lead to your ultimate goal should be considered as rungs on the ladder to ultimate career success.

Measurable

Attaining the position that you seek is not the only measurement of successfully reaching your career goal. While formulating your plan, you might consider the salary, work hours, and location of your ideal job. However, you should also think about less tangible aspects of a career such as stress level, professional integrity, and work-life balance. You should measure success by the overall satisfaction that you derive from your career, not just how much money you make.

Attainable

We are all at different stages in our lives and possess different competencies and capabilities. If you have properly researched your career alternatives, you should discover the industry and positions for which you are best suited. However, it may be difficult to resist the tendency to pursue a career for the wrong reasons. Pursuing a career that is not best suited to your personality, age, education, or ability is inadvisable.

Relevant

If you have carefully researched you career alternatives, hopefully your search has led you towards pursuing a career in a thriving industry. This may not always be possible given your educational attainment and transferable skills. As the economic landscape changes it is best to be involved in an industry where career prospects are growing. If you are not currently well suited to a viable industry, it might be worth the investment to pursue continuing education or internship opportunities that prepare you to make a career change.

Time-Bound

As stated earlier, setting a specific date forces you to follow the steps that are necessary to achieve your goal. The tendency to take some shortcuts should be avoided at all cost. However, while on the long road to becoming a doctor, you may find that you are better suited to be a Pharmacist. Nevertheless, if you find that you are indeed on the right career path, you should be committed to investing whatever time that it takes to reach your ultimate goal.

Getting S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

Now that you are on the S.M.A.R.T. road to achieving your career goals, you should make an immediate commitment to becoming even S.M.A.R.T.E.R. You must consistently Evaluate your plan to determinate if your career goal is still valid and viable. Then you must Review your plan regularly to make sure that you are always focused and on the right track.

Developing a S.M.A.R.T. career plan might sound like a lot of work. Yet without one, your career search might become aimless and stagnant. Taking the time to create Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound career goals may be the difference between becoming stuck in a dead end job or flourishing in a satisfying career. To insure that you stick to your plan, you must also commit to becoming even S.M.A.R.T.E.R by regularly Evaluating and Reviewing your plan.

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