Setting Career Goals

It is important to have professional career goals. Establishing goals for yourself will not only cause you to increase your performance at work, but your goals will encourage you to achieve promotions faster.

There are two types of goals that are important to consider:

1) Short-term goals

2) Long-term goals

Short-term goals are targets that you want to reach immediately. However, it is acceptable to believe that it might take you up to three years to reach your short-term goals. On the other hand, long-term goals are accomplishments that you hope to reach within five years.

Both short-term and long-term goals are important because goals that cannot be reached immediately sometimes feel unattainable, and when there are short-term goals that are met periodically along the way to reaching long-term goals it is easier to remain positive about the prospect of ultimate success.

The website CareerPlanning.About.Com says that career goals must be realistic and also attainable. They must be: conceivable, achievable, believable, clearly defined and flexible. If your goals are able to meet all of the above criteria, there is absolutely no reason to think that your goals cannot be met.

Tips on Setting Realistic and Attainable Career Goals:

1) Create a list of goals that is organized. It is optimal if the list is arranged so that goals flow from one to another as they are reached.

2) Prioritize your list of goals so that they are in order of which ones must be accomplished as priorities.

3) If some goals are complicated or will be time-consuming to reach, break down the steps to attain the goals into manageable pieces. When goals are overly complicated, the thought of reaching them can be overwhelming.

4) Make sure to frequently refer to your list of career goals. This will remind you about the targets you have set for yourself and it will help keep you motivated.

5) Consider setting personal goals that you will strive to achieve at the same time you are working on your career goals. It is easy be positive and motivated when you are successful reaching a goal on either of your lists!

6) Don’t get ahead of yourself. Attempt to reach one goal at a time and don’t try to jump ahead too far on your list. Goals must often be achieved through a set of important steps, and when shortcuts are taken they often backfire.

7) It is easy to become overwhelmed with a long list of goals. Therefore, focus on achieving your current goal rather than looking ahead and getting frustrated that reaching your goals is taking longer than you might have originally anticipated.

8) Celebrate when you reach a goal on your list. Reaching a goal is a big deal – even if it was a relatively small accomplishment in the grand scheme of things. No matter what, congratulate yourself when you are able to scratch a goal off of your list.

Set Achievable Goals

When you are setting career goals, you want to select goals that are actually attainable. For example, you should not set a goal of becoming an attorney if you do not plan on attending law school. This would be a type of unattainable goal. As the website CareerChoiceGuide.com explains, “Your smart, achievable goals become the foundation for a plan that motivates you to press forward through your achievements as well as your challenges.”

Setting reasonable and achievable goals can:

• Provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

• Encourage you to progress to your next goal.

• Motivate you to challenge yourself.

You are not Bound by Your Goals

Some people are afraid of setting long-term career goals because they are worried that what they want professionally today many not be what they will want in five or 10 years. They don’t want to bind themselves to a written list of goals and they are concerned that if they put their goals in writing they will feel obligated to accomplish the goals even if their aspirations change over time.

However, there is absolutely no reason that career goals cannot be altered as your career progresses. The idea that you might change your mind about your career aspirations over time is not a valid reason for not having a list of career goals that can be followed as a guide.

Stay Flexible

If you are attempting to reach a career goal and it presents unforeseen challenges, you may adjust the goal so that it becomes attainable while still meeting a milestone in the progression of your career. Keep in mind that the most important reason for setting career goals is to keep you motivated and organized – and not to cause you unnecessary pressure and stress that will produce dissatisfaction with your professional life.

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