Career Goal

A well-defined statement explaining the profession that an individual intends to pursue in his career

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What is a Career Goal?

A career goal is a well-defined statement explaining the profession that an individual intends to pursue throughout his career. It is important for every employee or job seeker to define their career goals clearly. It helps them to come up with effective action plans.

Career Goal - Image of three executives climbing the career ladder

Setting unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment. But that does not mean that one should avoid formulating career goals altogether. Creating resolutions is the easiest way to keep oneself motivated to achieve your dreams.

Breaking Down Career Goals

Setting career goals is an incredibly easy process. All one needs to do is to set targets.

To illustrate the concept, consider a 17-year-old who wants to become the CEO of a large engineering company in the future. He must go through several stages, the first being passing his 12th-grade exams. After passing, the teenager will then enroll in a four-year engineering course before moving to work in, for example, a multinational company for at least two years. Next, he may enroll in a management course from a reputable school. Advancing his studies is a good idea to boost his chances of getting the CEO position.

Short-term vs. Long-term Career Goals

As shown in the illustration above, there are short-term and long-term goals. The teenager’s primary objective is to become the manager of a company. In order to get there, he needs to achieve his short-term goals, which include passing his high school and college exams, gaining experience by working for a related company, and boosting his experience and skills through further studies.

Short-term goals are those that can be achieved within six months to three years. It may take three to five years or more to achieve long-term goals.

How to Set Career Goals

Defining career goals is just half the battle. An individual must set their mind on accomplishing the goals he or she has set. However, if one doesn’t develop or map out their goals properly, it will be harder to achieve them. When setting career goals, an individual should ensure that they meet the following criteria:

1. Specific

When setting goals, an individual shouldn’t just focus on being successful. Instead, he or she should define what success means to them. The ultimate success for one person may just be a milestone to achieving bigger goals for a different person. For one individual, success may be becoming the Chief Executive Officer of a company. For another, success can be attaining financial freedom.

2. Measurable

As one sets his or her career goals, they should ensure that they also come up with a way to measure their outcome. This can be done by setting a timeframe, such as “complete MBA degree within three years”. Once the individual is able to attain the short-term goals within the timeframe he or she sets, then they’re on the right path to achieving their ultimate goal.

3. Avoid negativity

A goal must be something that an individual wants rather than a factor he or she wants to avoid. So, instead of focusing on leaving a particular job or position within the next five years, the employee should aim at where they want to be and think about what they can do to move toward getting there.

4. Realistic

More than anything, an individual’s career goals must be realistic. It wouldn’t make sense for an individual to set a goal of winning a Grammy award if they’ve never performed or played an instrument.

On the other hand, the individual setting goals shouldn’t keep things too simple. A career roadmap should be a challenge, not a walk in the park. If the individual’s goals don’t make them a little bit uncomfortable, then they should probably set higher limits.

5. Tie actions to each goal

For each set goal, a person needs to take certain measures to achieve it. Listing the different activities that are needed to achieve a goal makes the whole process easier.

How to Achieve Career Goals

1. Write them down

It may seem like an old-school technique, but it’s actually very effective. Based on several studies, individuals who write down their career goals see a higher likelihood of achieving them compared to those who don’t.

There are several benefits to writing down one’s goals. For one, an individual is forced to think critically about how to achieve each goal.

2. Share the plan

Another perk of writing down career goals is that it makes it easy to share them with friends, colleagues, or even a manager. When an individual discloses their short and long-term career goals to other people, they feel more challenged to follow them through to the end.

3. Visualize success

One thing that high achievers do is to visualize their success. Sports psychologists often ask their top athletes to envision themselves crossing that finish line or kicking the field goal. It’s the same concept with career goals. One should think about all the steps they need to reach their goal and plan for the setbacks that they may encounter.

The Bottom Line

A career goal is all about setting short-term and long-term objectives related to one’s career path. Setting career goals is important, as it helps propel individuals to accomplish them. This is particularly so when the person shares their plans with a third party.

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Career Goal. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following resources will be helpful:

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