Career success doesn’t usually happen by chance. For most people, building a business and moving up the ladder takes focus, drive, and planning. So, if you’re unsure where your career is headed or what your next steps are, perhaps it’s time for some goal setting. Whether your goals are immediate, mid-range, or long-term, here are some helpful steps:
While it’s true that goal setting is a forward-thinking exercise, sometimes it helps to review your history before you get started. What has kept you from achieving goals in the past? What steps can you take to keep remove, minimize, or manage these impediments? What changes would be helpful before you proceed? Reflecting and answering some simple questions can give you clarity and help you stay on track.
Take stock of your career and personal life and ask yourself what is important to you and your family. Remember, not every professional goal needs to be tied to income. Your professional goals might include holding an office in an industry organization, networking, or increasing your social media presence and engagement. Relocating to a new town or changing companies can also be professional goals.
Break your goals into manageable tasks.
For every goal, detail the steps needed to achieve it and the estimated time to complete each step. It’s usually helpful to do this in outline form first and then block out time on your calendar daily or weekly, specifically for goal work. You can assign firm deadlines for each step or a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual timeline.
Make timeframes realistic.
While it’s good to assign target dates for each step in the goal-setting process, you could get discouraged and eventually give up if the timeframes are too ambitious. Factor in current work and family obligations, as well as any increased seasonal responsibilities to set yourself up for success.
Network with colleagues.
Find out how they handle goal setting and if they’d be willing to share any tips with you. Ask if you can meet regularly to help hold each other accountable for working on the steps that will help you reach your goals. Finally, be sure to celebrate together when each of you makes progress.
Have a mentor.
Asking a respected colleague or boss to serve as a counselor, advisor, and supporter is a great way to work toward your goals. By sharing their own experience, your mentor can help you avoid pitfalls and guide you in the right direction. You may also develop a meaningful relationship and friendship in the process.
Consider the education and training that will be needed for advancement.
Would a degree help you achieve your goals? Do you need certification or continuing education credits to move forward? Research the requirements, time commitments, and expenses that advancing your education and training will require.
Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.
As much as possible, try to align your goals with your best talents and attributes. If something is holding you back, make a plan to improve yourself in that area. Remember, no one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something. Make sure your goals reflect the ways you excel.
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