There are many benefits to goal setting on your career path. By working towards a goal, you not only get closer to your desired outcome, but you’ll reap job satisfaction and acquire higher self-esteem. Having a clear vision of where you want to be will help to determine what goals to set and how to achieve them. Your vision is a picture of what you aspire to – and what inspires you – in your work life. Once you’ve established a vision, the following points will guide you in setting short and long-term goals which make up the foundation of your career action plan.
Short-Term Goals (aka Objectives)
Short-term goals or objectives are stepping stones – often having a tactical or strategic value – towards achieving an end goal. Short-term goals typically take less time to achieve. They can also help keep you focused and on track to achieving your larger aspiration. Examples of short-term goals include:
- Learning a new set of skills
- Improving a current set of skills
- Networking with like-minded people in the same industry
- Optimizing your resume and/or LinkedIn profile
- Applying to jobs and preparing for interviews
- Gaining experience or additional responsibilities in which you can apply new skills
- Achieving a specific grade or score on an exam
Long-term goals are milestones you reach at an end of a lengthy period of time. They require planning, dedication, hard work, and time. Examples of long-term goals include:
- Pursuing higher education or a post-graduate degree
- Pursuing a specialized certification
- Being promoted to a senior level position
- Starting a new business or breaking into a new industry
Increase the Chances of Reaching Your Goals
Properly formulating your goals is an important task towards achieving success. By making sure your goals meet the following S.M.A.R.T. criteria, you can increase the chances of reaching your end destination:
- Specific – be detailed when you set goals. It’s hard to track and measure success when your goals are too broad. Example is “I want to be successful” versus “I want to earn an award of recognition for my work this year.”
- Measurable – tangible ways to measure success could include a score/grade you must achieve in order to pass an exam.
- Achievable – you can set sensible goals that also challenge you. An example would be learning more advanced skills in your area of expertise.
- Relevant – make sure your goals are compatible with your current skill set, abilities, and experience. Also, by making sure your short-term goals relate to your long-term goals, you can create a clear path towards your desired destination.
- Time-bound – the timeframe in which it will take to achieve your goals should be realistic and attainable. You can also use deadlines as a way to measure success towards reaching your destination.
Create a worksheet you can use to outline your career plan and mark down the goals you’ve set. As you try to reach your goals, it’s normal to come across some challenges. You will need to find ways to get around them. A section of your action plan can be used to list potential obstacles and possible ways to overcome them.
A well thought out career plan and goal setting will prove to be a very useful tool. Not only does it outline what you are setting yourself out to achieve but it also serves as a journal and provides a way to assess your performance. Setting goals and planning what you need to do to realize them will ensure that you reach your career destination.
Check out more of our blog entries on Career Goal Planning.