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The new year may be the time to incorporate the measuring system that helps you to achieve your professional resolutions.
  • Carly Burnham
  • January 2019
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Carly Burnham

When it comes to professional development or change of any kind, using the S.M.A.R.T. system to set your goals is always a good choice.

Carly Burnham

At the close of every year, I take a look at the past 12 months and consider how I performed against my goals. And at the start of every new year, I look ahead and set new goals and intentions for myself. I don't like to call them “resolutions,” but it's a matter of semantics. This year is no different. And as we start this year, one of my intentions seems pertinent to this column: “Avoid being distracted by the shiny new thing but don't be so closed to new ideas that you sacrifice growth.”

I'm sharing this because I think it's relevant for our industry and for my column. Our industry is going through changes. There are a few forces that seem to be expediting the pace of change compared to what we have historically experienced.

If we're not careful, we may be overtaken, or we may be so distracted by the competition that we forget the basics. When it comes to my column, there's always a hot new topic that comes across my desk.

As I look at what I wrote in 2018, the topics I addressed were far-reaching and broad. It's certainly important to keep your eyes open and consider how we ought to integrate new information into our workplaces.

But, for 2019, I want to bring this column back to something I think impacts each of us and that we can control. When Tony Canas and I started, we wanted to help those who just joined the industry find a path to a rewarding profession.

Navigating the industry and finding your niche can be tricky in our opaque workplaces. Beyond the opacity, the roles in companies have changed since our leaders started out in the industry.

For those reasons, and a few others, we wanted to serve new entrants and leaders alike by sharing career development resources, inspirational stories from those who are insurance professionals, and our own journeys along the way. So, in 2019, I'll be writing more about professional development.

Professional development is something that any reader of this magazine likely takes seriously. When we set those New Year's intentions (or resolutions, if you must), we might have separate lists devoted to personal and professional, or they might all be lumped into one.

But, I'm certain I'm not the only one out there contemplating the steps I want to take in 2019 to expand my knowledge and advance my career. I look forward to sharing some ideas, strategies and tactics that I'll be trying over the next year.

It will come as no surprise that as I write this, I'm trying to use the S.M.A.R.T system for setting my 2019 goals.

What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for? Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. When it comes to professional development or change of any kind, using the S.M.A.R.T. system to set your goals is always a good choice.

Whether you're planning to pursue designations, find a mentor, or go for a promotion, start by thinking about the steps you'll need to take in this framework.

If you write down your plan, can you identify these metrics in your plan? I often take it a step further and add notes to my calendar, so I can measure whether I've met the timing I set out for myself.

Whether you've written resolutions or goals, it's a great time to consider if they fit into this framework. If they don't, you may want to incorporate the S.M.A.R.T. system to set yourself up for success in 2019.

I'm looking forward to getting back to writing and thinking about professional development in a more focused fashion this year, and I hope you'll share your thoughts with me!


Carly Burnham, CPCU, MBA, has been in the insurance industry since 2004. She blogs at and can be reached at

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