As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time to dust off your New Years resolutions and set career goals for 2014. However, despite your best intentions, you’re likely to abandon your goals less than a month into the New Year; this is because your goals might be too general, too large or too vague to achieve.

To stay truly committed to your goals, rewrite each one using the “SMART Goals” formula: Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Here’s an explanation of each element, with an example:

Specific: A goal should be as specific as possible, stated clearly in 1-2 sentences. “To find a position where I can earn more money” is vague. “To find a position where I can double my income over 3 years” is more specific.

Measurable: A goal is measurable if there is a specific outcome to be attained. The more quantified a goal is, the greater the likelihood is that the goal is measurable. Compare these two statements: “I want to earn more money” (non-measurable); “I want to earn 35% more in gross income” (measurable).

Action-Oriented: A goal must be action-oriented to be achieved; you must do something to make it happen. Nothing will happen if you wait for the ideal employment situation to fall into your lap. You need to “shake the trees” and engage in multiple activities, such as tapping into your network or researching online and library databases to find companies where you might like to work.

Realistic: While it’s wonderful to dream big, setting the bar too high can be frustrating. When you add some realism into your goal, it will be more achievable for you. For example, you set a goal in January 2014 of finding a position that pays $125,000 by March 2014. This may be unrealistic under the prevailing rule that you can expect to search at least one month for every $10,000 in desired annual income. So you might want to adjust this goal to January 2015 instead of March 2014, even though you may reach it ahead of schedule.

Time-Bound: When you set a date and timeframe to reach your goals, there is a greater likelihood that you will achieve them. Using the example above, your goal can be worded like this: “To be in a/an [insert your industry] position where I am earning $125,000 by January 2014.” Of course, this is a large goal and you will need to break it down into sub-goals and benchmarks in order to track your progress and maintain motivation.

If you revisit your goals and rewrite them using the SMART formula principles, I can guarantee that you’ll position yourself for greater success in 2014 and the years to come.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2013