Creating Your Career Goals

By: Megan Jones

Whether you are just starting out in your career or have been in the workforce for decades you may have pondered your trajectory and planned ways to grow. When I was a fresh college graduate, I had created an entire plan for how I wanted to shape my career. However, in my experience, your career path doesn’t always go the way you intended it to, and it can be a serendipitous surprise! However, it is important to still set goals, and learn to be adaptable and resilient within your career. If your career takes an unexpected turn, reflect, re-evaluate, and re-strategize. If you are looking into creating your career goals, or reflect on your current career goals, then this is the article for you!

Why Should You Have Career Goals?

Career goals are a great way to continue your growth and keep propelling you forward. Additionally, career goals can be goals set for the bigger picture. If you are in a current position, these goals don’t have to be solely tailored to your current position, they are cultivated to help you grow.

Although, some of your career goals can be for your current job to help you excel in your position, most should be created to set your career for where you would want to be in five to ten years. The goal with career goals is that they are designed to help you create a strong working portfolio, full of growth and creating opportunities for a successful future.   

How Do I Create Career Goals?

Career goals, should be like any other goal. A great way to create your goals is to make them SMART:

  • Specific: Create a specific goal, if your goal is too vague, the parameters or plan you set forth may lack details which can alter your success rate.
  • Measurable: Find a way to measure your goals both quantitatively and qualitatively. If one of your career goals, is to feel confident within your workload (qualitative measure) then consider documenting the periods you are feeling confident or lack thereof. Then take average the values. If you are not meeting the mark, then consider creating a plan to get you to your desired goal
  • Attainable: You want your goal to be achievable and attainable. Set a goal with a plan in mind of how you can attain it.
  • Realistic : Your goals should be realistic. I of course would love to set a goal to be a billionaire by the end of this year, that is not a realistic goal for me. A more realistic goal would be to get a 3% raise.
  • Timely: Set a brief timeline of when/how to complete your goal. There are a myriad of external factors that can alter the timeline however, if you never set a timeline, then you may delay getting started and staying on track with your goals.

5 Career Goals

If you are looking for some inspiration on how or what your career goals should be, here are some examples.

Become Proficient in a Skill (Or a SME)

Each year consider dedicating the year to a particular skill. It can be becoming stronger in Microsoft excel, or taking development classes on public speaking. Whatever skill you pick, dedicate the time to become knowledgeable in this area. Depending on what the skill is you could become a SME (Subject Matter Expert) which increases employees marketability and value!

Improve a Process

When starting a new position, you have this wonderful opportunity to see blind spots that seasoned workers may be immune to. If you have been a position for a number of years, you be accustomed to the workflow. However, a new employee who is trying to learn the role, may see that some processes could be streamlined. If you are new employee, remain curious! If you see an area that can use an improvement, have a discussion about it!

Reversely, if you have been in a position for while, you may know the processes like the back of your hand! Take the time to revisit certain workflows and see if there is any areas that could be re-worked. You have the visibility to see what the risks are if you make a change.

Create a Strong Network

This is the one goal that I would say is the most important in building you career. In my experiencing, career advancement starts with who you know and who knows you. Take the time to get to know your colleagues and consider eating lunch with your team or other colleagues. Ask a colleague to get a coffee or go to an after-work event. These are great opportunities to branch out and talk to someone that you do not get to interact with on a daily basis.

Earn a Higher Salary

You deserve to be fairly compensated for your work. Remember to evaluate your work with the job description of your position. If you are working above and beyond, then you should be compensated for it. Set compensation goals and then remember to have these discussions with your manager. Moreover, remember to advocate for yourself!

Find a Job You Love

This can be a difficult and unexpected journey. It may even surprise you where you end up! Take the time to consider what you like about your job and what isn’t as desirable. Are they balanced? Do you like the job but not the company or vice versa? Working at a company that aligns with your values and being in a position that you enjoy can make work feel exponentially more rewarding and exciting. Remember you may spend most of your week at work so you should do it with a company you enjoy!

Career goals are a great way to keep yourself motivated! Consider taking the time to create and reflect on goals you have made. Then enjoy the process of pursuing your goals!

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