Get SMART About Your Goals

Last week, we discussed all the fabulous things you accomplished this year. We toasted to big wins, like promotions and raises, and little successes, like making pesto from scratch for the first time. But what about the things we didn’t accomplish?

I’m certainly not trying to bum anyone out, but there are still a few weeks left of the year. You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “Leave it all on the field.” In our case, let’s leave it all in 2023!

If there are things on your to-do list that haven’t gotten done, you can supercharge your year-end with some quickstart SMART goal-setting and go out on a high note! While you might not have the time and resources to make big things happen (although you are welcome to prove me wrong!), you can make some headway and give yourself a head start in 2024. Here’s how… 

Break It Down

Big goals usually have many moving pieces. And they are often linear, meaning you have to do one before you do the next, and so on. Instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall, start writing.

Start with the big rock – what is the overarching mountain you didn’t get to the summit of in your professional or personal life? After that, list a minimum of 5 steps that it will take to get where you ultimately want to be. Consider sorting them in one of two ways: 

  1. Chronologically, if they are best done in a certain order 
  2. Simplest to most complex (i.e., what would be easy to accomplish in the next three weeks.)

For example, if a promotion into management is on your mind, you may need to do any of the following: update your resume and get a new headshot; obtain certifications; connect with people in the best position to advocate for you; close any gaps in your skillset; etc.

The more specific you can be about those goals, the better shot you have of getting the satisfaction of crossing them off your list. That’s where being SMART comes in!


It’s become a bit of a corporate buzzword, so you may have heard of SMART goals before. For those who haven’t, it’s an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. By making sure each of your sub-goals is SMART, you’ll be better positioned to track your progress and check them off!

Specific: First, your goal must be specific with clear and precise definitions. If your sub-goal is to secure an interview (in order to get a new job), what kind of job, with what title, and at what company?

Measurable: How will you define success? Is it the number of resumes you send out? Or the number of recruiters you’ll connect with? Choose trackable metrics for easy analysis of your results.

Achievable: Winning an Olympic gold medal in figure skating isn’t very likely if you don’t know how to skate. Shoot for the stars, but make sure they’re the ones in your galaxy!

Realistic: We can’t do everything at once, but we can do one thing right now – that’s why we chose smaller steps. Consider what you really have the capacity for, especially if you want to get this done before the ball drops on December 31st.

Time-Bound: This is not a drill! We have just 3 more weeks of 2023! Setting deadlines is one of the most critical components of goal-setting. Set calendar reminders so you always keep those milestones top-of-mind.

Get smartER

You may not have heard this one at the office yet, but there are two new letters in town. You’ve already set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals, but nothing happens in a vacuum. As time goes on, you may want to:

Evaluate: Set weekly or monthly check-ins with yourself to measure whatever makes your goals measurable and track your progress. Complete, still in progress, or not yet started? Then…

Readjust: Things come up, the goalposts move, and new information comes to light. There are many reasons you may need to rethink your goals and make changes in light of current circumstances. Flexibility equals resilience, so try not to get so stuck on track that you can’t make changes along the way.

What’s Next?

One more tip for getting things done: find an accountability partner. As your friendly neighborhood careers coach, I’m happy to step in and keep you on track to complete your SMART goals. I even have some availability in the next few weeks, so please reach out if you’re ready to get to work!

Lisa L. Baker - Certified Personal, Career, Success and Life Coach

Lisa L. Baker is a professional life coach, career strategist, and keynote speaker. Lisa is the founder of Ascentim – a Maryland-based coaching practice that utilizes a unique G.R.O.W. process to help clients gain clarity, realize new possibilities, overcome obstacles, and win at life. Lisa shows high-performing professionals how to Level Up and Live the Life of Their Dreams.

Ready to G.R.O.W.?