Use These Five Steps to Set Your Career Goals

Nancy Anderson
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Career goals have a way of falling off the radar when work becomes hectic. After all, you probably feel pressured to manage everyday obligations before devoting time to new goals. Yet, goal-setting strategies should also be a priority, as striving to do better gives you powerful motivation to make daily improvements. Follow these tips to develop constructive career goals, which you can leverage for personal success.

1. Evaluate Your Position

Career goals are difficult to achieve when you don't know what milestones to pursue along the way. Think about the driving force behind your goals, whether it's an unsatisfying job or your desire for a leadership role. Ask yourself what aspects of your job inspire passion or destroy your life force, so you can generate a loose list of criteria for any position you pursue. Evaluate personal weaknesses and gaps in training that you need to address, and stay alert to emerging trends in your industry that affect your competitive value.

2. Separate Abstract and Concrete Goals

Know the difference between dreams and objectives, so you can set attainable career goals. You may dream of someday becoming a creative director, but on a day-to-day basis, you need clear objectives that propel you forward. Organize your goals into immediate, short-term and long-term categories. Identify which goals are absolute priorities or low priorities, and come up with backup goals to give yourself a flexible outlook.

3. Design an Achievement System

A common reason goal-setting strategies go awry is the underlying feeling that you aren't as good as you could be. Make your career goals more accessible by breaking them down to daily tasks. For example, if you want to improve your sales and interpersonal skills, commit to initiating a conversation with one new person each day. Set aside time every week to research personal storytelling techniques, and learn to read facial and body cues to recognize changes in another person's engagement level. A system offers small successes for positive reinforcement, making it easier to stay focused, measure your progress and avoid getting discouraged.

4. Start Early

Whenever possible, complete immediate goals at the start of your day. Taking care of these priorities early helps you establish a routine and lift the pressure for the rest of the day. At the same time, finishing early gives you the time and incentive to exceed your goals.

5. Review Your Direction

Don't judge yourself if you decide to change your career goals. You may realize a particular career path isn't compatible after you gain firsthand exposure or discuss the realistic demands with an informed mentor. Remember that goals help you focus, but they often evolve as you learn more about your wants and interests. Periodically review where you're going and whether it's still in line with your destination.

Career goals help you achieve satisfaction at work by giving you a reason to improve your performance every day. Instead of allowing inflated dreams to drain your enthusiasm, use attainable career goals to motivate you to pursue attractive opportunities and keep developing your professional skill set.

Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong at



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