Break Down Your Goals

I often meet with job hunters and talk about their goals. During these chats, I see that most people have a STRETCH goal but not a SMART goal. In this post, I want to share how you can make your goals more easy to achieve by redefining them.

The Difference Between SMART and STRETCH Goals

There is a critical difference between SMART and STRETCH goals. A STRETCH goal is your big vision stuff. Something you really want to see happen in 2017. For instance, finding a job in 2017. This in itself is not actionable, it’s just inspiring!

The fact that it is not actionable means it has to be broken down into smaller pieces. That’s where the SMART goal comes in. A SMART goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

“I Want To Find a Job”

By far most the most common stretch goal I hear is: “I want to find a job”. This is great because people know what they want. The problem with a stretch goal is that it is not actionable. For instance, if the person has the goal of finding a job. It’s easy to see not finding a job as a failure. But, it really is not a failure to not find a job. As long as you have been showing up and working on your goal, you have made progress and I see that as a success – to move towards the goal.

Goal in the middle of a grass field

SMART Goal Example

Here is an example of a SMART goal:

In January, I will send 200 well-targeted emails containing spontaneous applications to companies that I think would be interesting to work for.

  • Is this specific? Yes. You can easily see what is expected – sending 200 emails.
  • Is this measurable? Yes. Whenever you have sent 20 emails, you have done 10 % of your goal. Simply take note of every time you send an email.
  • Is it achievable? Yes. 200 emails over the course of a month break down to 10 emails/day. Certainly achievable.
  • Is it time-bound? Yes. We will do this during January.

What we did at 400contacts, was to break the goal of finding a job into eight subgoals – each one helping the user get closer to realizing their stretch goal – finding a job. So, we already made some SMART goals in the app that helps you along the way.

For instance, here are two goals we suggest:

  • This week, contact 15 employers and ask them what their challenges are.
  • During a week, meet two people from your professional network for lunch.

Person sitting in backlight and thinking

Why These SMART Goals?

We propose these SMART goals for various reasons. For one, we know that at least 70 % of all job hunters find a job through an informal connection. So we want to help people develop informal connections all the time. We also want job hunters to have goals that they can control. If the goal is – reach out to 15 companies – then you are the only person that can do that. No one can stop you from sending an email. But, if you base your success on whether you get the job or not – then your success is in someone else hands. Your SMART goals should be something that you can affect. It needs to be achievable by your actions.

In short, break your stretch goal into SMART subgoals and focus on achieving them. That is progress and success.

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