How To Set And Reach Your Career Goals | 9 Ways

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Career goals help you become more productive, focused, and motivated. Here are a few ways to set up and move towards your goals.

RELATED: 11 Helpful Ways To Improve Work Performance

In this article:

  1. Understand Your Vision of Success and Set Your Long-Term Career Goals
  2. Make Sure Your Career Goals Align With the Company’s Goals
  3. Establish Your Short-Term Career Goals
  4. Look Beyond Your Own Performance and Understand the Dynamics of Your Team
  5. Talk to the Four People With the Most Important Job Insights
  6. Make a Gap Analysis for Your Current Skills and Those Needed for Your Dream Role
  7. Brush up on Your Skills and Learn New Ones
  8. Consider Getting a Mentor
  9. Schedule Regular Reviews of Your Status and Goals

Career Goals: 9 Ways to Set and Reach Them

1. Understand Your Vision of Success and Set Your Long-Term Career Goals

Short-term goals provide a path to help you reach your long-term goals. On the other hand, your long-term goals help you achieve your vision of success.

To determine your long-term career goals, determine first what success means to you:

  • Your vision of success could mean being in a management position in three to five years. You could even look further down the line and see yourself as a C-level executive in 10.
  • Another way to look at success is to be able to work for yourself. This entails saving up and leaving your corporate job to do something you’re passionate about.

Your long-term career goals give you an idea of where your destination is. Once you’ve figured that out, you can set your direction and how you’ll get there.

2. Make Sure Your Career Goals Align With the Company’s Goals

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Setting career goals is important for anyone in the workforce. It gives you clear checkpoints to help you track your professional progress and growth.

However, it’s also essential that your career goals align with the company’s goals. In this way, you have the assurance that what you’re striving for is attainable and beneficial for both you and the company.

For example:

  • If your goal is to increase your contributions to your team this year, look at it from a wider perspective. This means your team’s and the company’s goals. What kind of help do they need from you?
  • By looking at it from this perspective, you’ll be able to provide the contributions that can make a real impact. Otherwise, you might just be working hard on something that isn’t a priority or a need for the company right now.

Supervisors and employers also appreciate employees who make an effort to align their career goals with the company’s goals. This shows you’re a team player, and you want to contribute to the company’s growth, not just your own.

3. Establish Your Short-Term Career Goals

Once you’ve set your overall goals, break them down into more short-term goals. This can be anything from daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly goals.

Your short-term goals should provide checkpoints that show how far along you are from reaching your bigger goal.

  • For companies that deal with objective metrics, like quotas, it’ll be easier to track your progress. If your goal by the end of the year is to increase your sales by 50%, just break down how much more you’ll need to sell every month to reach that goal.
  • For those who work with more subjective metrics, try to find something you can quantify. For example, if you say you want to improve your workflow so you finish faster, compare how much time you saved using the new workflow.

4. Look Beyond Your Own Performance and Understand the Dynamics of Your Team

If you work in a team, it’s unavoidable that team performance affects you as well. After all, you are part of the team and how they perform also affects you.

For example, if your company gives bonuses based on team performance instead of individual performance, you won’t get a bonus even if you do well but your teammates struggle.

In cases like these, you have to look beyond yourself and see how you can help others.

  • If you see an individual member struggling, you can offer tips to help them out.
  • Likewise, this can also be a systemic problem. If this is the case, you can talk to your supervisor about making changes in the system to make the task easier for everyone.

5. Talk to the Four People With the Most Important Job Insights

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Talking to the right people helps give you insight to go further with your goals.

In any workplace, there are four essential people you can turn to for valuable job advice:

  • A trustworthy co-worker can give you insights about your job performance that you may not see yourself.
  • Your supervisor can give you a better perspective on how your performance aligns with the company’s goals and their view of what a good (a.k.a. promotable) employee is. They have a bird’s eye view on things since they also see the perspective of management.
  • The person doing your dream job can tell you what it takes to do that job. In this way, you can evaluate what else you need to work on to better prepare for that job and if you really want to do that job someday.
  • Any other employee who regularly interacts with you can also give you insights that you may not see yourself since they’re looking at the same situation with different lenses. Seeing different perspectives can help you widen your view, find gaps, and come up with more innovative solutions.

RELATED: How To Handle Career Change In Your 50s (And Beyond)

5. Make a Gap Analysis for Your Current Skills and Those Needed for Your Dream Role

A gap analysis involves comparing the present with the ideal. For example, you can compare the skills you have now with the skills you’ll need to be able to do your dream job.

How does a gap analysis help you with your career?

  • It gives you a standard to reach for.
  • A gap analysis can provide you with possibilities you may not notice, like a skillset you already have but ignore.
  • It can help you focus on an objective and measurable goals.

7. Brush up on Your Skills and Learn New Ones

After finishing your gap analysis, you should get a better idea of what you can do and what you need to work on. Here are some steps you can take after the gap analysis:

  • For skills you haven’t mastered yet, continue practicing and improving until you master them.
  • For those you’ve yet to learn, come up with a plan. This can include taking online classes, self-studying during your free time, or even looking for a mentor within your workplace.

These also apply to improve behavior. For example, if you have to work on a certain trait like punctuality, you can look up online resources to help you improve or even ask for tips from a teammate who’s always punctual.

8. Consider Getting a Mentor

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Having a mentor to guide you always helps.

If one of your long-term career goals is to get a specific role within the company, you can consider getting mentored by the person who does that job now. They’re the best resource on how you can improve yourself to prepare for that role.

If you’re still figuring out if you want that job or you’re not ready to spill the beans on your long-term plans, just observe that person. Among the things you should watch include:

  • Actions, behavior, and traits
  • How they communicate
  • Their way of carrying themselves, like their clothes and peer group
  • Skillset

This can give you a better idea of what to aim for to get that promotion. You don’t necessarily have to be a clone of that person, but just knowing what makes them successful can help you have the same success someday.

9. Schedule Regular Reviews of Your Status and Goals

Goals should be tracked regularly since some may need to be re-evaluated. There might be instances when you’d need to add more short-term goals or change your plan completely.

You can do this with a scheduled performance review, either by yourself or with a supervisor.

These reviews also motivate you to work harder since you’ll feel your progress. You’ll also get an idea of how far you are from the finish line.

Setting your career goals is an essential task you have to do to achieve success, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do. We hope these nine tips help make this daunting task easier.

What are some of your career goals? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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