How to Set Career Goals

How to Set Career Goals
January is usually known as the month when people will set their goals for the upcoming year. Most people sit down and take a look at their life and try to determine what they are going to do differently this year. They look at their past and try to decide what it is that they can do better, or how to act better, or to just be better. When you are considering career success, look past the January wish list and consider what you can do to change or improve your career. It begins by understanding the definition of what a goal really is.

Goals are accomplished within a set time frame and have a clear and defined ending. For example, you may say “I want to be nicer this year”. Technically, while it feels and looks like a goal – when you can define an ending within a set period of time, it actually becomes a goal. Writing goals is not as simple an exercise as it may sound and should be done in a three step process. First, we need to identify opportunities which require goals to be set. Second, we need to create goal statements to help us to work on those opportunities. Finally, we need to develop our goals.

The need to create goals is based on an aspect of our career which presents opportunities for improvement. Take a moment to reflect on your current career. Can you identify any opportunities or areas you can improve upon? When you are writing your career goals, identify exactly what you want to accomplish. Also determine if there are any other key players, when you will be finished and what other resources are needed.

Have you ever heard of the phrase “what gets written gets done”? This is the second step in the process. Write your goals on paper and plaster them in a spot which requires you to look at them every day. This will keep you on track. This helps to alleviate the “out of sight, out of mind theory”. Remember the acronym of S.M.A.R.T goal setting. If this is a new phrase for you, the definition is simple. The goal must be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time constrained. Ensuring that all of these elements are addressed in your goal statement will ensure success.

The final step in the goal setting process is developing your goals. Developing your goals adds dimension and depth to the goal statements that you have written. Categorize all of your written goals. Are there any goal categories that have a higher priority then others? Are there any barriers to achieving these goals? What about performance standards for the achievement of your goals? If it is not a goal that you plan to give 110% effort, it is not a goal worth setting.

Prepare a spread sheet for your goal action plan and identify the following:

- Identify the goal
- Why is it goal?
- What activities or steps are involved in the achieving the goal? Be sure to include deadlines to complete the goals by.
- How will you determine if the goal was successfully completed?
- How much will it cost to achieve your goal?
- Final completion date for the goal.

Keep in mind, that even though you may have started with a list of 100 goals, you may determine that everything on your list is not necessarily a goal. It may be something you want to achieve, but it is not a goal in the true sense of the word. Setting career goals may not be as easy as it sounds. It takes work to discover the areas of your career where you may need training and development in order to succeed. By taking the time to work through the goal setting process, you will find that you have made a major step in the positive direction for career success.

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