Setting your career goals

career advice courses personal development Oct 01, 2021

Live Your Life Your Way

Many people feel as if they're adrift in the world. They work hard, but they don't seem to get anywhere worthwhile.

A key reason that they feel this way is that they haven't spent enough time thinking about what they want from life, and haven't set themselves formal goals. Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You'll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray.

Why Set Goals?

Employees may sometimes feel adrift from what is going on around them, within the organisation. This may sometimes be due to a lack of motivation or an inability to achieve professional goals laid out by the organisation. The feeling of not being able to live up to one's professional potential would definitely result in poor appraisals, which in turn, would consequently leave a negative impact on one's career growth. This is why it is extremely important to focus on developmental goals at work. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organise your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life.

Most experts would advise the goal setter to go in for the concept of SMART goals. This would mean developmental goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Go through the following examples of career developmental goals to get a basic idea on how to set SMART goals.

Goals must be Specific: One should be specific while setting goals. Career developmental goals should not be ambiguous or vague. Setting goals involves identifying what you want to achieve, why you wish to achieve the same, what all would be involved in achieving the goal, possible obstacles which could act as an impediment, and finally, the benefits which would accrue upon its achievement. For example, let us assume that an employee identifies his lack of proficiency in international contracts as a weakness. He can set a specific goal of enrolling for a course to hone his skills or learn that particular application. Mastering this knowledge is one such example of a specific developmental goal for work, achieving which would prove critical to his career prospects. His chances of getting a promotion or a raise would be much better if the employee tackles any such inadequacies that may affect his ability to achieve his professional goals.

Goals must be Measurable: Goals have to be measurable. You should be able to gauge how much you have achieved or progressed in the development goal for work that you had set for yourself. Measurable goals enable you to understand whether you are on course and where you are lagging. It also enables you to understand the need for course correction measures you should adopt if there is a variance between what you have achieved so far and what you actually want to achieve. Take for instance, the example of the specific goal of mastery of international contracts. The completion of assignments, successful clearing of any exams, and the eventual achievement of a certification, would certainly help one measure his/her progress.

Goals must be Attainable: Goals need to be attainable or realistic in nature. The developmental goals you set for yourself must be challenging. One, however, needs to ensure that the goal is not overly ambitious. This would again involve a good assessment of one's own capabilities in realising the developmental goals. Capabilities signify an understanding of one's skills, abilities and finances to back the realisation of such developmental goals at work. The objective is to make sure that your developmental goals at work are actionable

Goals must be Relevant: The developmental goal must have an element of relevancy. A relevant goal is one, which has significance and the potential to enhance one's position at the workplace. It should also be in tune with one's capabilities and resources. A good example of a development goal at work is one, which is professionally relevant, challenging and rewarding, both in terms of career enhancement and satisfaction upon attainment.

Goals must be Time-Bound: The achievement of a goal should not stretch on forever. The setting of realistic time limits enables you to assess how far you have progressed. The setting of time-bound goals, helps bring a sense of urgency into the task. Set a realistic deadline or a time-span for all the goals.

Some may find goal setting to be a challenging task, but those who meet these challenges head on, will certainly progress on their personal as well as professional front. So, what are you waiting for? Follow this guide!

Set Personal Goals

You set your goals on a number of levels:

• First you create your "big picture" of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve.

• Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals.

• Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.

This is why we start the process of goal setting by looking at your lifetime goals. Then, we work down to the things that you can do in, say, the next five years, then next year, next month, next week, and today, to start moving towards them.

Step 1: Setting Lifetime Goals

The first step in setting goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime. Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):

• Career - What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?

• Financial - How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?

• Education - Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?

• Attitude - Is any part of your mind set holding you back? Is there any part of your behaviour that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behaviour or find a solution to the problem.)

• Physical - Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?

• Public Service - Do you want to make the world a better place?

Spend some time brainstorming these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants - however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)

Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals

Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.

Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.

Then create a daily To-Do List of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.

At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to study further and improve your industry knowledge. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.

Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.

Life’s a journey – enjoy the ride!

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