How to Set Ambitious and Achievable Career Goals

How to Set Ambitious and Achievable Career Goals
From Lifehack - January 2, 2018

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where youre going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isnt just important for youits important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, Oh, I dont know. Ill do anything, makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that wont lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates one-size-fits-all approach wont consider your unique goals and experiences. They wont help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

Get SMART when you define your career goals

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.1 The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After youre clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

Well cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Use SMART goals to create an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. Its free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. Youll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 career goals examples

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

If youre changing your job

If youre switching your career path

If you want to ace your performance review

If youre applying for your first job

Career goal setting FAQs

1. What if Im not sure what I want my career to be?

2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

4. Can I have several career goals?


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