Setting goals is a vital part of any person’s life. Whether we’re talking about personal or professional goals, knowing how to set them and achieve them is bound to increase one’s productivity and progress.
So, how to master the “art of attainable”? How to set ambitious career goals that you can actually accomplish? While there is some truth to the old proverb “Man plans, God laughs”, setting yourself up for success with careful planning can and will do you good.
In this article, we’ll explore how to come up with achievable, right-size career goals that won’t overwhelm you.
1. Start With Self-Reflection
The best way to start the entire process is through reflection. Take some time to reflect on what you’ve achieved in the past year. Did you break any new boundaries? Did you acquire any new skills? What did you achieve in the last couple of months?
When it comes to self-reflection, it’s vital to give yourself the praise you deserve. Reflecting on what you’ve managed to do in the past can be of great assistance when you’re setting yourself up for the upcoming year.
When you are using Focality to plan your career, self-reflection is already built-in. It will also make sure that you won’t forget your insights over the upcoming year.
2. Push Your Boundaries
This one is a no brainer – your goals should not be easy. Yes, they need to be achievable and realistic, but they should also be a stretch for you and challenging in a good way.
However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t take too much in one go. Pushing all of your boundaries to their limits is rarely a good decision. A better idea would be to maintain some of your goals on the same level as you did the last year while introducing a couple of new ones.
3. Ask for Advice
One of the best ways to fine-tune your plan is by seeking advice from experienced individuals. People who have already gone through all of the challenges that await you are bound to give you some valuable advice. Don’t be afraid to seek help from your manager or mentor.
Coaching can also be of great help when it comes to setting achievable career goals. While the cost of a business coach turns some people off, the long-term benefits of having a professional helping you set and meet career goals are undoubtedly worth it.
4. Make Your Goals SMART
SMART goals are a method of assessing objectives to make sure they’re achievable. The acronym itself stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. In other words, these are the five questions you need to ask yourself when setting career goals.
Are your goals sufficiently specific? This means that your goal should not be just “I’ll become a coder”. You have to go into details – which programming languages you’re interested in and what do you want to achieve by mastering them.
Your goals should also be realistic, attainable, and measurable. To avoid any disappointment, it’s important to make sure that the particular goals are actually achievable. You also need to find a way to track them in some way – a simple checklist may do the trick.
Furthermore, the goals also need to be timely. Each of them should come with a deadline – it will hold you accountable and assist you in hitting the targets in a timely manner.
5. Set Goals That Motivate You
When setting career goals, it is of crucial importance to choose the ones that actually motivate you. In other words, you’ll have to make sure you see value in achieving them.
When the goals of an individual are irrelevant given the larger picture or if that same person has little interest in the outcome, there’s a good chance that he or she won’t be motivated enough to work to make those goals happen. To put it simply, motivation is the key to achieving goals.
6. Re-Evaluate and be Flexible
No matter the timeline of your goals, make sure to periodically set aside some time to re-evaluate them, review them, ask yourself the important questions. Moreover, as you never know what the future may hold, it’s vital that you stay flexible with your goals.
Keep in mind that being flexible doesn’t mean giving up on your goals halfway through, however. That’s precisely what the deadlines, which we mentioned before, are for.
Being flexible means reflecting on your goals from time to time to determine if they can still be achieved. This won’t only give you breathing room for unexpected events but also allow you to add goals you haven’t originally thought of.
7. Set Goals in Writing
One thing that can make your goals real and tangible is writing them down. Once they’re put on the paper, you’ll have no excuse for forgetting about them.
As you’re jotting down your goals, don’t use words like “might” or “would like to”. Use “will” instead. For example, “I will learn a new programming language during the course of the next year.”
Remember to post your goals in visible places. There, they will remind you of your intentions daily and “keep the fire burning”. Turn these written goals into constant reminders by putting them on your computer monitor, fridge, desk, bathroom mirror, and at other places.
A tool like Focality will make sure that you don’t lose focus. You always have your goals in view while planning the day (or week, or month, or year).
8. Make an Action Plan
As funny as it may sound, a lot of people often miss this step. Once you become so focused on the outcome, it’s very easy to forget to plan the necessary steps that will help you achieve your career goals.
Create an action plan – write down every individual step and cross them once they’re completed. This is bound to help you realize that you’re actually making progress towards your final goal.
And once again, remember that you’re not alone. Whether you want to work on your programming, digital marketing, sales, search engine optimization, or whatever other skills, you can always seek professional help and achieve your career goals more efficiently.
Always keep in mind that setting goals isn’t just a means to an end, but rather an ongoing activity. Remind yourself to evaluate and readjust your approach from time to time – it’s a simple method that will help you stay on the right track toward your ultimate goal.
Next: Start Achieving
Now that you know how to set career goals, start achieving them. With Focality you can easily manage your time proactively. Create deep plans effortlessly, reflect frequently and learn from data-driven insights. Focus on what is important. Improve yourself, become more successful and balanced.
Jennifer Wilson is a writer at Qeedle.com She knows business processes and operations management inside out. As she understands all the challenges of running a small business firsthand, it’s her mission to tackle the topics that are most relevant to entrepreneurs and offer viable solutions.