It is generally advised by career coaches and consultants to refer to SMART when setting goals. It is a method used in setting and defining goals and aims. It is widely used in marketing, project management and other business areas. The acronym stands for 5 major principles:
- Specificis for a particular goal. It is crucial to understand what exactly needs to be achieved.
- Measurablemeans that both the result and the process are measurable.
- Achievablemeans that a goal is realistic.
- Relevantmeans that desirable goals are in line with the overall context and strategy.
- Time-bound means there is a deadline to when a goal should be achieved.
SMART is an effective planning tool because it helps set specific, measurable and informed time frames.
However, there are limitations to SMART.
- It is not suitable for long-term goals.
- It requires specific indicators and figures.
- It nearly excludes creativity.
This is why I recommend using the GROW framework for career goals. This popular tool was developed by the consultancy agency McKinsey.
GROW is an acronym made up of 4 stages:G (Goal)
is for goal setting. You need to define what you want to achieve and why. The time frame is one, two and five years. Define the conditions in which the goal is considered achieved. When formulating these requirements, you may want to guide yourself with the following questions:
- What do I want?
- What result will be the best for me?
- How will I know this is the result I was going for?
- What will happen once I achieve the goal?
- What will people around me say?
means that you need to properly and fully assess your current context. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is happening to me now?
- On a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is ‘perfect', how would I describe my situation now?
- Where would I like to be?
- How do I feel now?
- Who else is involved in the situation?
- What have I already done or am doing to solve the problem?
- What resources do I have?
is a step where you define obstacles, restrictions and limitations. Define the problems that are in your way to your goal now. For that, answer these questions:
- What is it I am doing that hinders my progress towards my goal?
- What worries/frustrates me the most in the current situation?
- What inner resistance is caused in response to my actions?
- What resources do I lack?
- What are major risks?
means reviewing your opportunities. Once obstacles are defined, figure out how to overcome them. Guide yourself with the following questions:
W (Will/Way forward)
- What can be done to change the situation?
- What alternatives are there?
- What would I do if all the necessary resources were available?
- Who could help me?
- Where could I find information?
- What would I advise to a person in my position?
- What options do I like best?
is a step where you define your intentions and action plans. After current limitations and options have been assessed, you should be able to have a full picture of how to achieve your goals. Create an action plan that will take you to your desired destination in future. Orient yourself with these questions:
- What do I plan to do?
- How am I going to do it?
- What is my first step and when am I going to make it?
- Do I need to take something into account before I take steps?
- What are possible obstacles on my way?
- What support do I need?
- How do I evaluate the success rate on a scale from 1 to 10?
Using GROW in career goal setting helps you approach your career development in a more informed and aware way.