Is pondering over career goals only the domain of job seekers or professionals in transition? Most driven professionals will disagree.
Looking at the career paths of most successful professionals and executives, one realizes the importance of having set goals and following through on achieving those goals.
Having a concrete goal is a probably one of the most effective tools to build a strong career. A concrete goal provides direction so you can leverage your skills to its full potential to achieve your career goals. To achieve long term improvement and career growth, it is extremely critical for employees to follow a career goal setting strategy and an action plan. Setting goals provides long term vision and allows you to plan the acquisition of knowledge, manage your time so that you can achieve your objective efficiently. Definite goals help you measure your progress and plan your career growth.
The SMART Principle is well regarded in bringing specificity to goal setting scenarios:
S – Specific – Is it focused and unambiguous?
M – Measurable – Could someone determine whether or not you achieved it?
A – Action-oriented – Did you specify the action you will take?
R – Realistic – Considering difficulty and time-frame, is it attainable?
T – Time-bound – Did you specify a deadline?
Use this strategy: First identify an overarching goal, and then create an action plan to achieve it.
Nadine Katz, senior associate dean, professor and director at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City, teaches a course on leadership. In a Forbes article she shares thoughts on how to pick and stick to career goals.
Take full responsibility for your career. Even if you feel like you have plenty of support from colleagues, boss and family, you must take charge of your own career path.
Carve out time.Set aside time to evaluate what you want. For younger people, Katz recommends a reassessment every six months or, at a minimum, once a year.
Break down goals into the short, intermediate and long term.Set goals for the next one to three years, for the next three to five years and, if you can, for 10 years out and beyond.
Do a skills assessment.A skills assessment includes taking a look at a combination of your personal style and your personality. Ask yourself: Are you a quick study? Are you resilient, fair, caring, consistent, understanding, predictable?
Evaluate your leadership qualities online. Search for "leadership self assessment" online and you'll find free tools. Do you motivate others? Build relationships? Manage conflict and delegate appropriately?
Examine your core values. What do you care about most? Competence? Excellence? Integrity?
Find a mentor. If your goal is to move up within your organization or company, find someone who has already climbed the ladder, and ask for help charting your course.
Dissect your accomplishments. If you resolved a conflict at work, take stock of how you did so. This kind of exercise can help you understand your strengths for the future.
Try new things. Allow yourself to sample fresh opportunities, and stay open to adjusting your career path if you find yourself enjoying a new direction.
Project into the future. Katz likes an exercise called "histories of the future," where you imagine yourself having achieved a goal, and then you trace the path you'd have needed to take to get there.
In summary, goal-setting techniques are used by successful people in all fields. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure progress and continuously motivate yourself to progress toward the vision you have for your career.
Continuous learning and self- improvement, and projecting your self-affirming beliefs about your future career/ life can then help brings goals to fruition.