We use the SMART goals method for discussing career orientation goals. It is suitable for setting goals both in the career orientation process and in other fields of life.



Teenagers and young adults


1 hour


In connection with the career plan, it is also helpful to consider the question of future required lifestyle and long-term plans (What will I be like 20 years later?).

However, we make an action plan usually for 6-12 months. Considering SMART criteria, the students complete 2-3 action plans at the training to help them make career choices.

The method’s name is an English acronym defining the characters of an ideal aim.

  • Specific – expressed briefly and clearly, appropriately detailed, determined     precisely
  • Measurable – quantity, quality, time, inputs, costs, successfulness, efficiency, failure rate etc.
  • Achievable/Attainable – it fits the person’s knowledge, skills and attitude who will accomplish it
  • Relevant – current, neat, it is connected to bigger plans and tasks
  • Timely – time-related, keeping deadline, within a time interval, having a suitable schedule.


It means to define what it is all about. It is essential to resist the temptation to define or agree on some kind of “diplomatic, general wording”. Unconcreted objectives put a considerable strain on the path to the goal. Examples of unconcreted goals: “I want to challenge myself.” “I want to become more confident.”


It means to formulate the goals in such a way that it is later objectively recognisable whether it has been achieved or not. It is not always easy to measure behaviour change.


It means using the motivational power of the goals through so-called goal pictures. For this purpose, it is essential to describe the intended final state when formulating the objectives as if it had already occurred. Formulations such as “I want to finally show more self-confidence” already contain a negative judgement of the current situation. The motivational effect is relatively low with negative formulations of objectives.


It means that goals must be formulated in such a way that one can achieve them. Unattainable goals are demotivating. However, it is important to set ambitious goals that motivate one to do their best.


It means that the achievement of objectives is monitored at regular intervals, with an end date. The time limit/deadline helps to look at the distance covered (motivation) and to react to everyday obstacles.


George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham (1981): There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives.
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