Whichever point you are at in your career path, one fundamental stepping stone to success is developing (and sticking to) career goals. Without structured career goals, you risk the danger of floating aimlessly through your career, not quite sure whether you are living to your potential or not.
Defining a career plan that includes specific career goals gives you a target to aim towards and also a way of monitoring your progression, ensuring that you stay on track. If you want to develop a highly successful career, then here are 8 secrets to setting career goals that stick, no matter if it is bookkeeping and Accounting or a job in the events industry:
1. Be realistic
Setting yourself a huge challenge to achieve within a short period of time is not only unrealistic, but it can also demotivate you when you fail to hit your goal. Be realistic when setting your goals, for example, aiming for the next level of promotion rather than jumping four levels of the corporate hierarchy. As you hit one target, you then adapt your career plan to ensure that you keep moving forward.
People often make the mistake of comparing their own career to that of others. Your career plan should individually be customised around what you want to achieve and incorporate your skills and strengths. Rather than thinking that you want to be as successful as ‘X’, focus on what it is that you personally want to achieve and what will give you fulfilment in your career.
3. Identify your strengths and interests
In order to build a career plan that works for you, you should discover what your key strengths are and think about what your main areas of interest are. Having career goals that you are genuinely interested in will give you more motivation and satisfaction when you achieve them. If event management gets you excited, you should be finding a job in events, not actuaries!
4. Make your goals specific
You might have heard of SMART objectives – Specific, Measured, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. These form the basis of many good career development plans and have been proven to be very effective. In regard to being specific, you need to be very clear about the details of your goal; the clearer you are, the more focused you will be. For example, if you have a generic goal such as getting a pay rise, this is not very structured. How are you going to achieve this pay rise? Applying for new roles? Working towards qualifications? You need to have a clear definition to aim for to make it attainable.
5. Take on regular feedback
Collecting feedback and using it to define your goals will also help you to monitor how well you are doing. Other people can give you the type of insight that you might not have thought about yourself, areas that you need to work on or ideas that they may have to help you develop certain skills.
6. Use long-term and short-term goals
You should have a mix of long-term and short-term goals to keep you motivated. The short-term goals will help you to stay focused on the elements that all add up to achieve the long-term goals. If you only have short-term goals, you are not working towards any overall objective.
7. Have goals outside of your career
Whilst your career is very important, if you become too focused on your career alone, you might miss out on other areas of happiness and you might also suffer from burnout. Having a balance of social goals, family goals, travel goals etc. outside of work will ensure that you are not pouring all of your energy into just one channel of fulfilment. This is important particularly if you suffer a setback, as you have other sources of happiness to fall back on.
8. Get professional advice
A bit of professional guidance and support might help you to develop a better quality of career plan and even help you to climb the ladder quicker, through a clearer career strategy. Talking to a careers expert could be the most important thing you ever do if it results in you achieving your dream career.
If you follow these eight secrets of effective goal setting then you are taking all of the right steps towards a successful career that you will get great satisfaction from.