Career goals are a professional's intention or purpose to achieve a specific objective in their careers or occupations. It's important to have career goals because it allows you as an individual to develop professional competencies and skills. Goals keep us on the right path, even when the path seems tough, and it allows us to be more focused around the most important aspects in life. Goals motivate us, provide direction and assists the everyday decision making process.
We all know that career goals are important to have, however how many of us actually end up sticking to our goals? and what are the results of not setting goals? A book written by Mark McCormack entitled “what they don't teach you at Harvard Business School explores the correlation between those who set goals at university and where they are today versus those who did not. What was interesting is that the 3% of the students who had set clear written goals, and put plans in place to accomplish these goals to accomplish them earned ten times more than those who didn’t.
Career goals are important, as they be the difference between being stuck in a dead end job and actually having a fulfilling career. Here are some steps you can follow to make sure you stick to your career goals:
Step 1: Work backwards
Think about your long term ambitions then work from there. Qhat would you like to achieve in say 5 years time? Then break these down into two parts: conceptual goals and operational goals. Conceptual goals focus on your wants and needs, while operational goals focus on the steps you need to take to reach those goals.
What do I enjoy doing?
What are my key skills and competencies?
What's important to me?
Use the answer to these questions to develop your target career goal. Consider specifics about what type of jobs or roles would help you achieve your targets. For example, if your conceptual goal is to start up your own business, an operational goal might be to look for startups, investment firms or venture capitalists.
Step 2: What are the short term goals
When you have a clear vision of what you would like to acheive in place, it becomes easier to understand what needs to be achieved to realise the overall career goal. Think about what things need to be done now in order to achieve your aspirations. Consider both conceptual and operational short term aims.
What skills do I need to master?
What knowledge do I need?
What company suits these needs the most?
Your short term goals should alway be in line with your long term goals and you should always compare to make sure they line up.
Step 3: Set goals you can meet.
Set realistic goals that you can actually achieve. it's important that you have enough time, energy and interest to meet you goals, otherwise you can become discouraged. It’s important to consider: the time you have to commit to your goal, the education and skills needed, the resources available, and the ambitions achievable over the set time period.
It's important to start this planning process as soon as possible. Whether you’re a high school student, a recent graduate, or even a professional looking for a career change, it's never too late to start planning.