Setting goals will put you on the right path to a satisfying and fulfilling career, but do consider that even the best plans don't always work out, which is why you must be flexible enough to change them when the need arises.
Goal-setting is obviously a major component of successful career planning and your goals, and the measurable steps you take to achieve them will make up your career action plan (CAP). This is the roadmap that will take you from simply choosing a career to ‘work in’ as opposed to giving you the best chance of succeeding in it.
In this context, your goals should be closely aligned with your specific career objectives, such as securing a particular occupation, a move another rung up the career ladder or simply an increase in earnings.
The Difference Between Short and Long Term Goals
Goals can be broadly classified into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals.
Short-term goals can often be individual in nature and achieved in as little as six months to three years, while it will usually three years plus to reach a long-term one. However, for each long-term goal, you must first establish and accomplish a series of short-term goals to make them attainable.
Top 10 Tips to consider for better ‘Goal-Setting’
It is always much easier to define a goal than it is to achieve it. Hard work, commitment and adaptability ultimately play the biggest roles in your success, but if you don't formulate your goals properly, it will be much more difficult to reach them.
- Set aside dedicated time:
Identify when you’re going to lay out your goals, considering where you’ll be most productive, and what resources you’ll need to be successful. Then make sure to clear your calendar, eliminate the opportunity for distractions and put the date and place in your diary. Diarising the activity supports intention and all you then you need to do is show up just like you would for any other meeting - be professional, prepared and ready to work.”
- Review your accomplishments and shortcomings:
There’s no better time to engage in this part of the process than right now when your achievements (and failures) are still fresh in your mind from last year. Think about what you managed to accomplish in the previous 12 months both in terms of your goals at work and your larger professional goals.
Did you do everything you hoped to do this year?
What were your biggest wins and losses?
What would you do differently, if you had to do it all over again?
- Think about what motivates you: What inspires you to do your best work
Off the top of your head, you might say, ‘Money”, but while most people aren’t willing to work for free, research does show that meaningful work is driven more by internal rather than external factors.
Deep internal motivation is much richer than external drivers and stems from the meaningfulness of the work you do. You are subconsciously driven by what you yearn to do even if there is no reward or compensation.”
Make a list of what motivates you, if you want to do your best work.
- Set ambitious but realistic career goals:
What do you hope to accomplish in the coming year – gain a promotion or a pay increase, learn specific skills, get experience working with a new team or on a specific project?
Write it all down. Don’t be afraid to think big - or small. It all depends on where you are and what you want to achieve. It is also imperative to ensure that your long-term goals are both realistic and compatible with your abilities and skills.
The acronym SMART can help you set clear, actionable goals:
- Time Bound
Is your goal reachable within your time frame?
Don't set yourself up to fail. If you have one big goal, break it down into several short-term goals. Remember, you will do better if you take baby steps rather than one big giant leap.
- Look at what stands in your way:
What’s preventing you from achieving these goals? Any year-end review that you have just completed might be a great starting point. For example, your boss or Line Manager may have indicated that you need greater experience or a different skill set to move up to the next level.
However, you might already know what’s standing in your way. If you’ve never negotiated salary (Industry surveys indicate that 57% of workers haven’t), then your reluctance to do so may be the major obstacle. Research shows that 75% percent of respondents who asked for a raise received a pay increase., so learning some new negotiating skills may prove beneficial.
- Tie a definitive action to each goal:
Upon completing #4 on this list, you should have identified a list of priority tasks needed to work on, in order to reach each of your goals. Now it’s time to put those tasks into a schedule by making a daily plan. These are the tasks you do each day and, in essence, it’s what will build the framework of your role for the next 12 months. A clearly defined sub-task list is absolutely crucial to achieving your goals.
- Set performance benchmarks:
Basically, setting benchmarks (or benchmarking) determines what metrics or KPIs you need to hit to succeed in your job.
It’s like setting the rules for winning.
Step one: Determine what you’re going to measure. To do this, you need to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are the most important for your role and/or business?
Step two: Research your competitors and your industry. As you research, look for the same metrics you’ve selected to. If you don’t have direct competitors, you might need to dig a little deeper to find other companies targeting your same audience or companies with a similar business model in the same industry.
- Learn to be flexible:
As you work your way through your CAP, you will inevitably encounter barriers that threaten to impede your progress, but never give up. Instead, try and adapt and modify your goals accordingly to keep pushing forward. Consider letting go of objectives that become unimportant to you. Instead, put your energy into pursuing other objectives.
- Don't be negative:
Make sure that your goals are something that you ‘want’ rather than something that you want to ‘avoid’. For instance, instead of saying "I don't want to be stuck in this job for another four years," try and be self-reflective and consider improving your skills over the next four years so that qualify for a better job.
- Establish a strong support network:
It is always much easier to stay motivated when there is a team behind you and you feel that your goals are part of a wider, shared strategy. Build your own ‘personal board of directors’ to help you stay on track…and help you regroup when and if you lose your way.
So if you feel that one of your goals in 2018 should be to take that next, tentative step in your career, let one of our specialist consultants assist you every step of the way.
Get in touch today on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our job portal on www.optimussearch.com/jobs to see what we have on offer.