Career Goals: These 5 Tips Will Help You Define Them ClearlyReading time 6min
Most people overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what is possible in five years. We'll show you how to discover your career goals, define them, and create a plan so you can achieve them.
Your professional future depends on your career goals. So, you need to take the time to think about them.
Why Career Goals Are So Important
Why do you need career goals in the first place, and why is it so important to define them? Here's the answer: Because they will make you more successful!
In a widely cited Harvard University study, graduates were observed for over 10 years. There were three test groups:
- Group 1: 83% of the graduates had no specific goal.
- Group 2: 14% of graduates had a verbally formulated, concrete objective.
- Group 3: 3% of graduates had a written, concrete objective.
After a 10-year period, Group 2 earned three times the salary of Group 1, and Group 3 earned ten times the salary of Group 1. That's a significant difference.
More important, this shows that you can increase your chances of success if you set career goals and also put them in writing.
You should therefore be able to answer the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” relatively quickly and precisely.
How to Figure Out Your Career Goals
The best way to determine career objectives is to ask yourself questions like:
- What does success feel like to you?
- Who do you admire in your professional environment?
- What are your values?
- How important is work-life balance to you?
- How much would you like to earn?
- What are the characteristics of your absolute dream job?
- What are your strengths?
- What activities do you like to do?
- Do you prefer to be in one place or on the road a lot?
- Who do you enjoy working with (customer contact, teamwork)?
- Do you like taking on leadership positions?
It is critical that you give reasons for your answers to the above questions. This will help you figure out what you really want and define your goals accordingly. It is also essential that you're able to state the “why” for a professional goal. This helps to contextualize the goal that you want to achieve.
Also, consider whether you want to achieve it for yourself or if you are just aiming to achieve it based on the expectations of those around you.
Career Objectives Come in These Types
It's best to divide your career goals into different categories. That way, you can easily identify what you need to focus on in order to achieve them.
Career objectives include ideas and desires about your job, the employment relationship, the profession, the industry, working conditions, duties, and responsibilities. Pay and your position also play an important role.
Examples of career goals:
- Higher salary
- Taking on more responsibility
- Raise/New position
- Employment with desired employer
- Transition to self-employment
Professional goals are essential if you want to grow and move up professionally. Even in the marketing or IT field, what is in demand today may not be tomorrow. You may also want to further your education in a specific field and become an expert in the company. Or are you currently thinking about a career pivot?
In order to move up the career ladder, you should set yourself personal goals. This doesn't directly mean changing jobs, but to your personal skills and attributes – in other words, the soft skills. Where do you find it most difficult to overcome, or where do you repeatedly reach your limits? Often, achieving personal goals can take you a step further.
Examples of personal goals:
- Improve presentation skills
- Learn negotiation skills
- Become more effective at networking
- Refine collaboration and team working capabilities
- Learn how to better handle criticism
- Improve communication skills
Productive goal setting
Are you constantly working overtime or have a mountain of tasks ahead of you? Or would you just like to have time to finally finish that book that's been waiting for months? Then you should set productive goals that you can set for a longer period of time or even just for a day. Methods to improve time management are helpful in this regard.
Private goal setting
What happens after your job? Do you feel satisfied with the work day and are you able to switch off in the evening? Or do you feel so overworked that you scroll through social media in the evening to somehow distract yourself from your stressful day and unfinished tasks? You can maintain a better work-life balance with private goals, among other things.
How to Define Your Career Goals in 5 Steps
Are your goals buzzing all around in your head? Are you still working on formulating them?
Either way, it's time to make a change. To be able to achieve goals, you should write them down and keep them in mind. We can help you with this!
1. Your current situation
Take an honest look at your current situation to find out what is bothering you, where there is a need for optimization, what you want from a new job, and where you've already achieved some of your goals.
These questions will support you in doing so:
- What is important to you?
- What is missing in your current situation?
- What could you do all day long?
- What are you putting off over and over again?
- What stresses you out?
- What do you find the easiest to succeed at?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What makes you uncomfortable?
2. Your personal vision board
Visualize your goals. This solidifies your intention and gives you a very specific idea of what to expect and how you feel about achieving your goals. Create a collage of images that matches your expectations. Could it be a house by the lake? A presentation in front of 500 people? A business meeting with your professional idol? This is entirely up to you to decide.
3. Define your goals
Now define your goals. Start with main objectives and set specific and measurable secondary objectives, which are prerequisite to achieving your actual goal. Write them down and make a realistic estimate of when you can achieve them by.
4. Create your plan
Now create a goal plan. Determine how you want to accomplish something, what it will take to accomplish it, and how much time you will need to accomplish it. Prioritize your goals and try to break down larger ones into smaller, intermediate goals. Have your role models or someone you know already achieved similar goals? If so, a look at their behaviors and strategies will help you get started.
5. Review your success
Using your goal plan, you can now evaluate how successful you are in achieving your goals. Make any necessary adjustments and stay flexible if your professional goals aren't always met according to your expectations.
Conclusion: Set Goals for Yourself
With a specific goal in mind, your professional future is more promising. It is worth defining professional goals and thinking about the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”.
Do this step by step and set realistic interim goals for yourself.
And don't forget: Once you've achieved a goal, you should celebrate it!
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