How to Set Goals to Advance Your Career

Successful people aren’t successful by chance or natural-given talent (although that may play a role). They’re calculated and disciplined. They constantly set goals, work towards them, and build momentum. They also set goals in the right way—clearly defined, achievable, and measurable.

If you want to advance in your career, you need to set such goals and monitor your progress. Doing this will inform you of how far you’ve come and where you need to go, giving you satisfaction and drive to keep striving forward.

Let’s take a closer look at how to set goals effectively, that will help you advance in your chosen career …

Goals Must Be Achievable

One of the main reasons people fail in their goals and give up setting them in the first place is because they choose something that is unachievable in the short-term. You may have an end goal of a dream job, fame and recognition, and millions in the bank. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you aren’t going to get there overnight.

You need to break bigger goals into smaller steps. So, before you get your dream job, set a goal of landing an intermediary job along your desired path. Or, even better, set a goal of applying for such jobs and attending the interviews.

Even if you don’t get a job out of this first round, you met your goal of going to the job interviews and learned some valuable lessons along the way. You’re in a much better position than a month ago. That’s momentum!

Likewise, don’t set too many daily goals. People often craft their “to-do list” when they’re in a good mood and firing on all cylinders. It is, in effect, their ideal day. Instead, create your daily task list to reflect what you can realistically achieve on an average day. If you do more, great!

The act of achieving a well-set goal is great for the psyche.

Be Specific

You can’t achieve career goals if they are vague because you won’t be able to plan the best route and measure your success. Goals need to be actionable.

So, instead of setting the goal of being better at presentations and pitches, set the goal of implementing a new presentation technique. Once you have done this and your presentation was a bit better than the last one, you are on the road to better presentations.

This is part of the SMART goal framework.

Set Milestones and Monitor your Progress

A common error in goal-setting is setting a goal and then forgetting about it or never having a date by which you aim to have completed the goal. You must use dates and timelines to ensure you’re putting your goals into action, not falling behind, and are on track to achieve them. With mind to the above two points, it’s ok to check in from time to time and revise your goal if it is unachievable, but don’t revise it so much or push the date back so far, that you’re hindering meaningful progress.

Don’t Set Financial Limits

Sometimes to advance in your career you need to spend money you might not necessarily have. That could mean a new wardrobe and car to impress clients or peers, the latest technology and equipment for the job, courses and education to get better qualifications, or relocating to a different state.

Don’t let a lack of funds hinder your goals because you will only regret it later. Installment loans of up to $5,000 can be easily found online, and what might seem like a bothersome amount of debt now, will soon vanish once you’ve attained your dream job and the bank balance to reflect that.

Sell Yourself

In order to move up the ranks of your career, your superiors need to recognize that you’re doing well and achieving your goals (as well as theirs). That means you need to communicate and sell yourself. The best way to do this is to set goals that benefit both parties and communicate them.

Managers aren’t mind-readers, so tell them where you want to be, what you are doing to get there, and ask for feedback and input.

When you’ve completed a project, ask for tips on how to improve. Put these tips to use and ask again. This keeps everyone in the loop and shows a clear line of progress.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Everyone is their own worst critic and we’re much more judgemental of ourselves than other people are of us. There are going to be times when you don’t quite meet your goals, even if you followed the above advice.

Don’t beat yourself up, reevaluate and see what went wrong. This is a time for learning and setting new more effective goals. You can’t fail if you never quit!

Are you on your chosen career path and are having success with goal-setting? Let us know your tips below!