Importance of Setting Career Goals
Career goals are important because they act as a destination for your career. If you were going to drive to a location that you have never been before, would it help to have the address? Of course it would! In fact without the address you would most likely drive in circles or go off course. Consider your career goals the addresses of the locations that you are heading to. Without them you could be in for a long career where you find yourself feeling like you are “missing something” and often going through your days very bored and disengaged.
By clearly defining what you want to achieve in your career, you will know where you have to focus your efforts. You will also be able to easily notice the distractions that would otherwise deter you from achieving your goals.
Most importantly, clearly defined goals can be incredibly motivating, and as you become more and more comfortable setting and achieving goals, you’ll find that your self-confidence will build rapidly.
Get Started Now: Long Term Goals
Are you ready to start setting your goals? You should have a blank notepad and pen for this exercise. If you prefer, you can type on the computer, although I recommend pen and paper, at least for the first time through.
Start off by setting your long term career goals. A good place to start is 5 years from now. Go through and answer the following questions in a brainstorming format on a piece of paper and keep in mind, you are answering them based on the idea of where you want to be in your career 10 years from today. Brainstorming is a creative technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for answers to a question. Basically, write down anything and everything that comes to mind for each question.
Feel free to change 5 years to 10 years or another time period if that feels more comfortable for you.
1. Where do I want to be in my career 5 years from now?
2. Why do I want to be there?
3. How can I get there?
4. What additional skills or training will I need to get there?
5. Who can help me get there?
Once you are finished brainstorming, spend some time reviewing what you wrote down and from it, try to create clearly defined, specific answers to each question.
Here is an example as to how someone might answer these questions:
1. I want to be president of my company.
2. I really enjoy what I do and I believe in what this company stands for.
3. Hard work, become known in the industry, build relationships, provide my clients with high value service.
4. I will need to take some courses in management.
5. My current supervisor would be an excellent mentor.
Congratulations you have now set your long term career goals.
Short Term Goals
Now it is time to set your short term goals which act as stepping stones to your long term goals.
Do another brainstorming activity and write down any and all steps or goals that you feel will help you to achieve the long term goals you have set above. Based on the example above, two short term goals might be: 1.) research and sign up for management courses and 2.) discuss with my supervisor a formal mentoring relationship. Some of the long terms goal will require many short term goals, like becoming president of the company and even becoming known in the industry. So here is an example of some short term goals that might be created based on a long term goal of “becoming known in the industry.”
• Join professional groups and associations to get your name out there.
• Make presentations at these meetings to display your expertise in the industry.
• Become proficient in and utilize social media.
• Get involved with community programs.
These of course may change depending on your industry and your personal style.
When setting your short term goals it may be very helpful to use the SMART mnemonic. There a few different versions but basically SMART stands for:
S – Specific
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
Setting SMART goals will help you to reach attainable short term goals; building confidence along the way in order to ultimately achieve your long term career goals!
Congratulations at this point you should have some very clearly defined career goals!
We wish you the best in achieving them!
Additional Tips for Setting and Achieving Your Goals
• Follow your heart and passion when setting and achieving your goals. Do what you want to do rather than what you feel you “should” or “need to” do.
• List the benefits for achieving the goal. This will provide you additional motivation.
• List some action steps towards achieving each goal.
• Attach time deadlines to your goals.
• Visualize yourself achieving your goals immediately after you set them. This will build your confidence and remove all doubt that you may have in your mind.
• Take steps each day towards your goals, no matter how small you think the steps may be.
• Anticipate and expect that you will achieve your goals. You may even want to state the goal as if you already achieved it.
• Don’t limit yourself in any way when striving for your goals. Be prepared to do things that are uncomfortable or unfamiliar to you along the journey.
• Get out there and network with people. Things don’t happen when you sit still, keep moving!
• Understand that it is YOU that will achieve YOUR goals, no one else. If you are waiting for someone’s help, stop waiting.
• Take a good look at everything you have already achieved in your career and be grateful and thankful.
• Help or mentor someone else in achieving their goals if the opportunity presents itself.