How to set career goals

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published On: 1 Jun 2020

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We are often told to set our own career goals, but it’s rare that we are told how. You could start by asking yourself where you want to see yourself in 1 year or in 5 years? What do you want to know by then and what new skills do you want to have learnt? Having a clear vision of where you want your career to take you is very important when setting these important goals. You want to let ambition drive you, but you want to make sure that your goals are attainable, both short-term and long-term. We have some tips and ideas to help you plan your goals and achieve them in the time frame that you want.

Clarify what you want to achieve

From the minute you start thinking about and planning your goals, make sure you are clear to yourself in what you want to achieve. Your goals should be specific. If you have a long-term goal, like gaining experience in a leadership role or increasing your earnings, make sure you have several smaller goals that will help you achieve the bigger goal, they should work as stepping stones to get you where you want to be. You should also try and put a time limit on each goal, this can help motivate you to achieving your goal in the time you set yourself. However, when picking a date, you should ensure that it is achievable, and you have taken your other commitments into consideration. Everyone has different schedules and work-loads so make sure it is suited to you, not others. When planning your goals, make sure that you are asking yourself why you are doing this. Once you understand why you want change, it can help you get into the mindset to actually drive the change.

You want a challenge, but make it realistic

You want to make sure that the goals you are setting yourself are realistic. One downfall that many people can face is setting goals too far out of reach and when they don’t hit them in time, it can cause them to feel demotivated. It’s very important to push yourself and always strive for the best that you can be, but make sure that your goals are tailored to you and you’re working for them for the right reasons. Your career is something that you should feel passionate about, you will be putting a lot of time into it so make sure that you are doing it for you and ensure that it something you enjoy. It’s all about commitment.

Ask yourself what skills you have and how you can develop these further, as well as finding new skills that will help you on your journey.  Work on yourself as well as your career goals and it is likely that you will enjoy the process so much more.  

Are your goals relevant?

Sometimes careers can take a re-direction and your goals can change. Make sure you are looking through your goals regularly and ask yourself if they are still relevant to you and your career. Everything you are doing to reach a goal takes time and effort, so make sure that they are worthwhile. Will it help you reach your long-term goals? If not, readjust your smaller goals and make sure you are working towards something that it suited to you.


Tips to achieve your job goals

Write down your goals – A key step to achieving your goals is writing them down. The obvious reason to this is not to forget them, but for some people it is a technique to remind you daily of what you are trying to achieve. So, if you have a bad day, you can read over them and remind yourself of what you can do!

Plan a goal journey – Once you have written down your goals, you want to have an idea of how you are going to reach them. One way of doing this is having a simple plan of how you will reach each goal. Take it step by step and make sure you are reviewing this often. Things can change, so take this into account as well.

Try and stay on track – It is easy to write down your goals and regularly read them. However, actually going out there and getting it done is something you may need to motivate yourself to stick to. There may be days where you feel like you need a break, or you can be low on motivation but remind yourself of why you are doing this. Try to stick to deadlines you make yourself, but if you miss a deadline, ask yourself why and see if you can make the next one. Just because you have a slip up doesn’t mean you cannot get back up and carry on.

Pair your goals with an action – You want to set a goal and then set an action for yourself to go and do, in order to achieve the goal. Sometimes you need a little bit more than just an idea. You need to find something that is going to allow you to hit your target. Try and include this in your goal journey and find as many actions to each goal as possible.

Reward yourself – When you reach a goal, make sure you are acknowledging your achievement. It can be ways to forget about it and move on to the next one but rewarding yourself can have multiple benefits. It keeps you motivated and ready to move on to the next. Share your successes with friends and family as well, keeping them in the loop can be very rewarding.

Have a goal partner – Having someone on a similar goal journey as you is a great way to get things done. You can keep each other updated on what you are doing and your achievements. Just having someone to share your goals with can let you know that you aren’t alone in this. They can be there for the positive and negative experiences you may face.

We all know why we should set goals. They can help us understand our career aspirations a little better. But knowing how to set goals is far more important. You should want to set goals that are ambitious, yet realistic and achievable. Understanding what you want from your career is key to setting goals and splitting them up in between short-term and long-term goals is a must for most people. You want to tailor them to you and focus on yourself. There will be other people that achieve their goals faster than you, but that doesn’t make you a failure. It is different for everyone and you should remember that throughout your career. You may slip-up and miss deadlines, but it’s getting up and starting again that is the important thing. If you understand why you are doing this and you have a clear and relevant goal journey, then everything should fall into place in time.