Smart Goals

SMART Goals for IT Careers

IT folks need to set smart goals.

IT is a fast moving industry, but a lot of people from all over the globe are getting into it and the skills needed rapidly change. You have to be intentional about your career- otherwise, instead of riding the wave, you’ll get tossed around the seas, or worse- sink!

Creating goals is the best way to be intentional about your career, and setting them is vitally important if you want to realize your dreams. Napoleon Hill said that a goal is just a dream with a deadline. 2016 is almost upon us! I’ve put together some tips and some things to avoid to help you move your IT career to the next level in 2016.

First, let’s cover the SMART Goals Framework, first attributed to George T. Doran. To be successful, each goal you set should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Rather than just define what each one means, let’s run through a realistic scenario and you can see it in action. Here’s the start of the goal:

I want to improve my IT Career

This is waaaaaay to vague. At least this is career focused, and not just life in general. But we can narrow this down a bit more and be a bit more Specific as to what the next step of success would look like.

I want to get promoted to Senior Systems Administrator at my company.


Is this Measurable? I think so, yes. When you get the new nameplate and higher paycheck, you know you got the promotion.

Can I take Action on this goal? Let me add some steps that will put action to this.

I want to get promoted to Senior Systems Administrator by getting my MCSE and VCP certifications and mastering the Web Hosting domain at my company.

Cool. Now I have two steps that will help me get there. These might be handy to discuss with my manager. Maybe the manager has some more specific criteria. Or better still, we could come up with some more specific criteria together that would demonstrate that I was senior.

I can come up with some steps to get my VCP (Oh, wait- I did that already) and my MCSE so I can get there.

Is this goal Realistic? Hmm… I was just promoted from Desktop Support in January. Do I really think I can be Senior SysAdmin this soon? I’m more like a Systems Administrator, Level I…


Don’t get too carried away here. There are no rules to what a Senior Systems Administrator (or insert_your_goal) is. If I can build the skills, get the experience, and carry the confidence, it can happen as soon as someone is willing to call me that.

We still have to be realistic, so I’m not going to try for Senior Systems Architect (right now) or anything. Ok- I think this is realistic.

All right- now we have to put a Time-bound limit on this. This scenario, given that I had 3 years at the company already, I’d give it to the end of 2016. As in, December 31st. This is something I would take back to my manager and ask, “What would it take for me to be Senior Systems Administrator by the end of 2016?” And from there we build a plan.

So now we have this:

I want to get promoted to Senior Systems Administrator by getting my MCSE and VCP certifications and mastering the Web Hosting domain at my company by the end of 2016.

That’s a pretty darn SMART goal! This is the type of goal you want to see.

I was going to keep going, but I need you to put these into practice. Next week, I will give you some super-common goal pitfalls to avoid. For now, though, get going on some goals.

Take some time now to set 3 SMART goals for your IT career in 2016. Seriously. Just stop what you’re doing and open up your document management system of choice. Here are some thoughts to get your goal juices flowing:

  • Do you want to make more money?
  • Do you want new job doing something a little different?
  • Is there a company you admire and want to work for?
  • Do you want to make some connections high-profile people in the IT industry?
  • Do you want to master a specific software (like VMware, SCCM, or PowerShell)?
  • Do you want to shift your focus and maybe develop some software?
  • Are you just breaking into IT for the first time?

Take your 3 goals and run then through the framework. See what they look like at the end- can you make a plan around that?

I would love to hear what your goals are after you run them through the SMART Goals Framework. If you want me to keep you accountable, you can put them in the comments below when you finish.

Last thing- I want you to be plugged in when next week’s post drops. Please take a moment and subscribe at the top or top right of the page. This way, you’ll get notified of new content so you can stay engaged.

Thanks for reading. See you next week!


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