The Whys and Hows of Setting Career Goals
American entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said, “If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us.”
Setting personal and career goals is important for all of us to continue to grow and develop. Long term career goals help us make the most of today while keeping our focus on tomorrow. There are many ways in which setting career goals can have a long-term benefit, including:
1. Giving Us Direction
Perhaps the most important way setting goals-assists us is that they give us direction. Picture standing in an open field with nothing but miles of countryside surrounding you. Without knowing what’s in the distance in each direction, or what you want, how would you choose which direction to go? Having a distinct goal points us in a specific direction and allows us to let go of any “what ifs” we may have about going in any other direction.
2. Supporting Our Today
Focusing on our long term goals helps us to not get bogged down with everyday stressors. A person who is thinking about tomorrow is much more likely to have a successful today. Picture having a conversation with a challenging customer who is highly in their upset. While it may be tempting to shout or turn around and walk away, reminding ourselves that our goal is to advance will help to shake those negative feelings and allow us to assist the customer with a smile.
3. Maintaining Our Motivation
There are days when we wake up and don’t feel like getting out of bed, let alone going to work. Without long-term career goals, it would be much easier to listen to that little voice that encourages us to call in and stay in bed. Having long-term career goals reminds us each day of what it is that we want and supports us in completing the action steps it will take to get us there, including getting out of bed.
4. Increasing Productivity
Without long-term goals, it can be tempting to do as little as possible to get through the day or use the extra time in our day for something unproductive, which can often make the day seem longer. Having long-term goals in mind keeps us motivated to be productive. A person who wants to advance will use that extra time to complete an action step toward their goal.
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5. Reminding Us of Our Value
Having a long-term goal asserts that we have value. Thinking about what we want and setting about to achieve that desire shows us that we are deserving of that goal. We deserve to achieve our desires. We are worthy of that promotion. We are worthy of that raise. We are worthy of success.
Now that we’ve addressed the whys of setting long-term career goals, below are some tips on the hows.
1. Set An Intention
How can we set a goal if we don’t know what we want or why we want it? Take ten minutes and write down an ideal scene for yourself and your career. Where do you want to be in five, ten, fifteen years? Wherever you want to see yourself, set that as a goal.
2. Break Down Your Goal Into Specific Action Steps
It can be disheartening to think about how far away we are from some of our goals. Looking ahead fifteen years seems awfully distant, but it’s actually closer than you think. Rather than looking at the goal as a whole, break it into smaller measurable goals that you can complete on the road to fulfillment of the main goal. There are small steps that you can take right now to work towards that goal.
3. Stay Positive
Make sure to set your goals in a positive light and focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, if your goal is to move workplaces, don’t set your intention as, “I will not be here by next year.” Instead, set a goal that says, “By next year, I will be at another company which recognizes and supports my talents and achievements.”
4. Document Your Achievements
Documenting accomplishments not only maintains our focus on the goal at hand, but it reminds us of how far we’ve come. It can be discouraging to look at a goal that seems far away. But, if you have something that you can look at that reminds you of all the things you’ve already accomplished and completed on the way to that goal, it will help motivate you to keep going.
While determining and setting goals can be challenging, keeping those goals can be an even greater challenge. The important thing is to keep your intention. Remind yourself of why you set the goal in the first place and remind yourself that you deserve to achieve that goal.
We at David Couper Consulting have proven experience in helping individuals and organizations set goals and action plans for achieving goals. If you are seeking assistance in setting an intention, please contact us at info@DavidCouperConsulting.com. We would love to help.
Melissa Schoenecker is a freelance writer and co-creator of the universe based in Venice, California. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and a Master's Degree from the University of Santa Monica. She contributes to a number of blogs and online postings, but her best work can be found in her gratitude journal.