Step Two: Set Goals

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Step Two: Set Goals

Now that you have determined your career areas of focus, you can begin the process of setting and reaching goals and expectations. The key to achievable career goals is using the S.M.A.R.T. method and a Career Action Plan that will help set realistic and attainable targets to keep you motivated. With the right strategy in place, your career focus can be well-defined and within your reach!

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

When you set goals, we encourage you to make them “S.M.A.R.T.” You may be familiar with “S.M.A.R.T.” goals from participating in Notre Dame’s performance management process. For a goal to be “S.M.A.R.T.”, it should be:

  • S = Specific: Descriptive verb and specific result
  • M = Measurable: Quantity, quality, yes/no
  • A = Actionable: Actions within scope of job
  • R = Realistic: Reasonably challenging and achievable
  • T = Time-Bound: Deadline, milestones or frequency

When establishing your career goals, try to meet as many of these criteria as possible.

Examples of Goals

A few examples of career development goals are listed below; use these examples to help you identify your own S.M.A.R.T goals:

  • Complete an informational interview with an administrative professional by September 17.
  • Attend the Launching Me, Inc.: Establishing My Personal Brand workshop on October 15; update my personal marketing tools (resume and cover letter) by October 31; schedule a review session with a career consultant by November 15.
  • Review weekly to identify opportunities that fit my interests and abilities.
  • Complete the Managing My Career series by December 1.
  • Schedule a feedback session with my manager by October 15.

Career Action Plan

A Career Action Plan can help you identify your career goals and expectations more efficiently and effectively.

Exercise 2.2 – Career Action Plan


Exercise 2.2 below is an abbreviated Career Action Plan exercise from Notre Dame’s Managing My Career: Deciding and Setting Career Goals workshop.

Exercise 2.2 – Career Action Plan (PDF)

Note: you will need to review your completed activities previously listed in this guide to work through this action plan.

Need help completing the Career Action Plan? Sign up for the Managing My Career: Deciding and Setting Career Goals workshop.

Continue: Summary and To-Do Checklist