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5 Ways to Set Achievable Career Goals

Posted on 17 July 2020 by Michael Deane at Qeedle (Guest post)

This may seem like a strange time to be making career plans given the uncertainty of what the future will look like but in some ways, it is an opportune time. When was the last time you had the chance to seriously think about your career? It is likely that you have a little more time on your hands at the moment with COVID-19 continuing to impose restrictions on travel and work.

We may not know for sure what things will look like on the other side of this pandemic but that doesn’t mean that we can’t decide on what we want from our careers. Would you say that you know where you stand in your current role and where you want to be in five years? Or even in a year?

When it comes to our professional success, we usually have some idea of progressing or making a change, but not a clear vision of the actions we need to take to get there.

To commit yourself to advance your career, you need to set achievable career goals. Read on for five essential steps that will prepare you for a positive turn in your career.

1. You Need to Own Your Goals

No matter what kind of change you're dreaming of – a new career, a promotion into a more responsible position, or a raise, your first step is to determine whether your goals are genuinely yours.

As social beings, we often set our personal and professional goals based on the pressure and expectations of society - our family, friends, or colleagues. Sometimes, we take them for granted and don't think them through, and never question whether they're fit for us and aligned with our personal needs and wants.

If it's a promotion you're hoping for, ask yourself: do I sincerely want a job with far more responsibilities then the one that I already have? Am I honestly excited about the position, or am I more interested in the reputation that it brings and the fact that a promotion will make me look better in my personal inner circles?

If you have any doubts about your goals, your path to achieving them will be much harder.

2. Your Goals Need to Be SMART

Your odds for achieving your career goals are much higher if you make them SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. This way, you will be able to clarify your ideas and focus your attention and efforts on achieving what you want in your career.

Ask yourself - is your goal of being in senior leadership specific enough? To be specific, your goal needs to go into more detail. Look into the future until you have a clear vision of what kind of leader you want to be. Think about which skills and experience you will need to gain to achieve what you want.

Whatever your goals in life, whether they are to do with advancing in your career, starting a small business online, or being healthy, getting specific about what that will look like will help you achieve those goals quicker.

Apart from being specific, your goals should also be easy to measure. This way, you will be able to track your progress, using a checklist or actual metrics, so that you know for sure when you've achieved them.

To make your goal attainable, it needs to be realistic, meaning you have enough resources or can acquire what you need to achieve in the timeframe you've defined.

When setting goals, make sure that you set deadlines for achieving them, so you can prevent your everyday tasks from being prioritised over your long-term career goals.

3. Let Your Goals Challenge You

However, even though we've mentioned that the goals you set should be attainable and realistic, you'll find yourself working harder to achieve those that are at least a bit challenging.

If the career goals you set are too easy, they will bore you and demotivate you.

On the other hand, challenging goals will keep you interested, help you avoid boredom, and push you forward so that you can reach your potential. The best goals are those that can push you out of your comfort zone. It's logical that they should be accompanied by some uncertainty, doubt, and fear.

However, you should avoid having your head in the clouds and setting goals that are too ambitious. Only you can know the difference between entirely unrealistic goals and those that are a doable stretch.

4. Put Them In an Action Plan

Once you're done setting your professional goals, you need to put them in action to be sure you'll achieve them.

The first step is crafting a well-thought-out plan that will give your actions a clear direction and structure.

To make a plan you will need more detailed research into what is it that you exactly need to do to achieve your goals – are there any skills that you need to master, or any other requirements you have to fulfill.

Write down all that you want to achieve in the given period, and break it down into smaller chunks, such as a week-by-week schedule. This time, even a big goal won't seem out of your reach, as you will be regularly working on it, reaching the milestones, and monitoring your progress.

5. Commit Yourself to Achieving Your Career Goals

Achieving your goals won't be easy. When setting your goals and making your action plan, you need to determine whether you'll be able to commit yourself to pursue them.

If you're unsure whether you'll be able to do what you've planned, consider revising your goal or setting a new one that will motivate you more, or that is more realistic.

You will be the most committed to achieving the goals that are authentically yours, and that bring profound results, and the change that you want to see in your life.

Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael's work at Qeedle.


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