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The SMART Goal-Setting Process Essay

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Updated: Sep 13th, 2020


SMART goal-setting was first introduced by Dr. Edwin Locke in the 1960s (Griffin, 2017). According to Locke, setting goals that fit into the SMART criteria provided motivation and empowerment to people, which was crucial to ensure that the goals are achieved (Griffin, 2017). Today, SMART criteria are applied to the goal-setting process in many organizations, regardless of their size and area of business. The rules are universal and can also be applied to personal goals, which makes them an excellent tool for developing a career plan.

SMART Objectives


The first criterion emphasizes that goals need to be specific and relevant to the desired outcome (Joseph, 2017). Setting general goals may reduce motivation, as the path to achieving them becomes unclear (Joseph, 2017).


In order to achieve success in pursuing a goal, there has to be a way to measure success, which is why the second point of SMART goals theory is that the goals need to be measurable (Joseph, 2017). By measuring success, it is possible to monitor the progress towards the goal, which ultimately improves motivation.


The third criterion to be applied to goals is attainability. A goal that is impossible to achieve becomes a burden rather than an opportunity, as all the efforts put in by the person will not help him or her to attain the goal. If the goal is achievable, on the other hand, it is possible to devise a clear strategy to ensure that it is reached.


The next criterion emphasizes the need for the goal to be realistic, which means that a goal has to be set with consideration of the current circumstances. If the goal is set too high comparing to the current career level, reaching it will be hardly possible.


The final stage of goal-setting is ensuring that the goals are time-bound. Setting a definite time limit by which the goal has to be achieved creates a sense of urgency, which may become a substantial motivating factor.

SMART Career Goals

My ultimate aim is to become a Registered Nurse. However, there are three main stages that have to be completed before I can reach the desired position.

Stage One: Graduate from Regis Health Care Administration

The first step in my career plan is to graduate from Regis College with a degree in Health Care Administration. In order to do that, I need to complete all of the program requirements and courses, which is a specific objective. The goal can be easily measured, and the result of completing the goal will be receiving a Diploma that marks the successful ending of the course. I believe that this aim is also attainable, as I am working towards completing the course and so far my grades have been acceptable. Completing this stage of the plan is realistic, as the goal is set based on my current level of education and abilities. Finally, the expected time of completion is Summer 2018, which makes the goal time-bound.

Stage Two: Enroll in an Accelerated Nursing Program

After I receive my certificate in Health Care Administration, I will need to enroll in a nursing program to continue my nursing education. I plan on applying for an accelerated nursing program at Regis, Metro, or Denver School, which is a specific objective. Acceptance into the program will be the ultimate measure of success, which means that the goal is measurable. It is also attainable and realistic, as it is the next step after I graduate from my HCA program; I am aware of the requirements of these schools and believe that I can attain the results needed for acceptance. Finally, the anticipated start of the program is in Fall 2018, which sets a specific time limit for the goal.

Stage Three: Work as an RN in Sandalwood Rehabilitation Center

The ultimate goal of my career plan is to achieve an RN position at Sandalwood Rehabilitation Center, where I currently work as a CNA. This aim is specific, as it mentions the position and place of work. The goal is also measurable, as I will know when I receive this position. The goal is attainable, as I have been successful in my work here so far and I believe that upon completion of the nursing course, I will be accepted to work as an RN. The aim is also realistic as I understand the requirements of the position and the path to achieving certification. Finally, the time limit of the goal will be estimated as soon as I complete the second stage of the plan, as it depends on the length of the nursing program that I will complete. As soon as I receive the certification, I believe it will take me up to six months to gain an RN position.


Overall, I believe that separating my career plan into three SMART goals is a useful practice to gain more understanding of how to achieve the ultimate career aim. SMART goal-setting ensures that the goals are not unrealistic, which provides more motivation to work towards the goals. I feel that my current abilities and the chosen path of development will help me to reach my final goal and to receive an RN position at Sandalwood Rehabilitation Center.


Griffin, D. (2017). .

Joseph, C. (2017). .

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