Set career goals

Set career goals

Set career goals

Set SMART goals to move forward.

Where would you like to be in the next six months? In two years? What will help you achieve that? Setting goals is about deciding where you want to head, and planning the steps needed to get there.

What are examples of goals?


Image of young person

“I’m assistant manager at the Popcorn Bar… I enjoy the responsibility. I feel like I have a meaning in life, something positive to do. I gained more than a paying job – I gained self-respect, positive thinking. I can picture myself reaching my goals.”

See Johnny’s story

  • Get a job
  • Open a bank account
  • Apply for financial aid
  • Apply to college or training program
  • Enroll in a youth employment program
  • Pass the high school equivalency tests
  • Handle a health issue
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Find reliable childcare
  • Get my criminal record expunged
  • Earn a certificate to qualify for better jobs

How to set goals

You can use the SMART system to help you set goals.

Specific – What is a concrete step toward your goal? For example, “make an appointment with the school counselor to talk about my education and financial aid” instead of “figure out about school.”

Measurable – Ask yourself questions like: How much? How many? How will I know when my goal is accomplished? For instance, “Apply to 3 job postings this week.”

Attainable – Clear steps that give you enough time to reach them are more successful. Is the goal realistic? What needs to happen first? It should be a challenge, but also achievable.

Relevant – Does the goal really matter to you? Will it get you where you want to go? Is this the right time? Setting goals that you don’t really care about, or that don’t fit you, won’t work.

Timely – To keep it clear and motivate you to take action, your goal should happen in a defined time period. When do you want to begin? When do you want to complete each step?

Tips to achieve your goal

  • Write down the steps. Write down your goal and the steps to get there. Post this list where you will see it; it will help you remember and achieve each step.
  • Reward yourself. Think of small rewards to give yourself for completing steps toward your goals. It will help you stay motivated!
  • Have a goal partner. Find a friend, co-worker, a job coach, or someone else to check in with. Talk about how it’s going, and do the same for your partner!