Meeting and Setting Career Goals

A career goal can be described as any other type of goal: Something that somebody wants to achieve. The difference between a career goal and a personal goal is that a career goal is something that you want to accomplish professionally. Your goal might be a certain salary, a certain professional title, or a certain job with a particular employer.

Because you spend a large percentage of your life working, it’s important that you are doing something that you like and that makes you proud. Setting professional goals can help ensure that you reach your career goals in a timely manner.

According to the website WiseGeek.com, “Finding the career that’s right for you is the first step of career planning. Your career should suit your life’s purpose and passion as well as rely on your best skills.” Career goals are not just as simple as finding the best possible job that suits your talents and professional requirements. Your goals should include an ongoing list of short and long term goals that you strive to accomplish throughout the duration of your career.

Start Planning Early

A person does not have to wait until they are in their 20s to start setting career goals. In fact, career goals can be set while a person is still in childhood. A child as young as 5 or ten years old can start setting goals! The beauty of setting goals when you are young is that you have the liberty to change your goals as you grow older and you are not bound to your goals whatsoever. But, a child who aspires to become a lawyer, for example, can set this goal and begin thinking about this career while growing older. It’s never too early to have ambitions and to set sights on something professionally important. Many children develop professional interests when they are young and they should be encouraged to explore those interests as they enroll in middle school, high school and college courses.

Don’t Ever Stop Setting Goals!

When people become established in their careers they often become comfortable. They put themselves on a daily routine that consists of getting up in the morning, eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast, going to work, coming home at the end of the day, eating dinner, and going to bed. The routine can become so monotonous that it starts to feel like it is accomplished on a daily basis with little effort and little enthusiasm.

The website Self-Improvement-Mentor.com sums this up very well when discussing how career routines and repetitiveness build over time:  “Most do have career goals at the beginning of their careers, but after some time getting comfortable with their jobs and settling into a routine, they forget about it. They start going through the motions and slowly start to forget about their career goals and aspirations.”

Why Do We Forget About Our Career Goals?

There are a few common reasons that people set career goals for themselves when they are young and gradually forget about their goals as they grow older.

First, many people reach a point in their career that makes them feel content. They earn a salary that provides enough money to pay the bills, to take some vacations and to save some for retirement. Over time, they become disinterested in pursuing career goals that they originally set for themselves many years ago.

Second, they are unhappy with their professional lives but they have come to accept their situation as normal and believe that there is no way to improve their situation.

Third, they have very busy personal lives and do not have the time or desire to think about improving their professional lives nor do they want to bother with making a change in their easily accomplished routine.

In a nutshell, making and keeping career goals takes a little bit of time and effort, and many people are not willing to stay committed to their goals because it requires energy and focus. During the middle of a career it can seem pointless to stop abruptly and create goals. The problem with not setting and keeping professional goals, however, is that many people spend 30 years of their life in a career only to retire when they are in their 60s and 70s with a feeling of doubt and dissatisfaction with what they accomplished professionally in their lives.

How to Set Career Goals

Setting short term and long term career goals is not difficult. The difficult part is keeping on top of the goals – making sure they are met and adjusting them as time progresses.

When setting goals, follow these important steps:

  1. Decide on the career and position you want. Make sure to be specific.

  2. Don’t keep your goals in your head – write them down on paper or type them into your computer. Make sure there is a record of them!

  3. Determine the appropriate and necessary steps you will need to take in order to meet your goals.

  4. Start with the steps that can be accomplished first, and don’t get overwhelmed by your goals. Remember that it may take a while to reach some of your long-term goals.

  5. Stay true to your career goals and don’t let them slip through the cracks.

  6. Periodically review your goals to make sure they are still in line with your professional objectives and adjust them as necessary.

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Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.