Having goals is important in every aspect of your life—from personal to professional. Setting strong career goals, though, is vital for your success in your place of employment. Regardless of whether you work for someone or are your own boss, having a plan for your success will push you forward every day. Plus, these goals will motivate you, if and when you hit a rut.
Goal-making is an essential part of being human. Whether you’re planning for a future vacation, a career advancement, or some aspect of self-improvement, creating markers of success and moving towards those markers will encourage you and build you as a person.
When it comes to setting career goals, it’s important to focus on what you really want to achieve. You have to consider both the big (long-term) and the small (short-term) goals, as well as tangible ways you will see and measure your success. You’ll also want to consider what success looks and feels like to you. Is this a promotion? A sense of accomplishment? Physical reward? A feeling in your chest that you’re doing the best or the right thing?
Once you identify what success looks like, and start to take action in terms of achieving that success, you’ll be well on your way. Here are seven small ways to set (and smash!) those career goals and move forward professionally.
1. Visualize where you want to see yourself.
For some, this may be a vision board or some type of physical representation of what success looks / feels like. Others may find value in writing down steps for their individual progress, milestones (achieved and on the way), or mantras for confidence and productivity.
Whatever motivates you, and by whatever means, make sure that you’re visualizing. It’s not enough to hope; you must also believe and put yourself visually in that successful place.
2. Start by creating a list of short-term goals.
Sometimes goal making can feel overwhelming, especially if we start with the big or end goals before the small steps to get there. Instead of freaking yourself out before you even begin, start small. Think of your daily tasks. How can you make a difference in the way you approach your next project, next meeting, next progress review?
When you take time to create small goals first, it will make meeting the larger ones seem more feasible.
3. Begin with one small change.
As you set small/short-term goals, be mindful of the fact that despite your best intentions, you might become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what you have to do. Instead of broadening your to-do list and getting stressed, focus on one small thing. What can you do differently tomorrow? Today? In the next hour?
Slow down and approach each item on your list one-by-one. Make one small change, then add another slowly so that your success is prevalent, yet gradual.
4. Get organized.
Truthfully, until you organize yourself and your physical space setting and meeting career goals may be a challenge. Take a moment to create order and balance in your workspace. Organize your files, documents, computer folders, etc. As you organize, goals will feel more attainable as opposed to overwhelming.
5. Emulate the success of those above you.
Think about a person in your workplace that you’d most like to be. Whose job really resonates with you? What can you see yourself doing in the future? Instead of trying to create your own version of success (which is great, don’t get me wrong, but can add a lot of pressure!)—look to someone above you and see if you can emulate their decisions, choices, and steps.
Finding a starting point (in terms of comparing yourself to someone in a career role you admire) can help to give you the first steps in building your own career goals.
6. Create an accountability factor.
Accountability is huge in goal-setting. Whether this comes from people (friends, coworkers, etc.), a rewards system that you create yourself, or progress reports to check yourself, this is a great way to keep yourself on track with your goals.
You can create a tangible reward for every sub-goal that you meet. You can elicit communication and ‘progress reports’ from people you trust. Or you can give yourself periodic self-assessments to see how far you’ve come. No matter what you choose, make sure that you’re seeing where you are as a means to encourage and improve.
7. Be patient with yourself.
Patience truly is such an important factor when it comes to making and setting career goals. It’s one thing to say, “Yes, I will achieve this.” It’s another to continue to believe in yourself, even when your goals aren’t met on a specific timeline.
Above all else, you have to understand that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to achieve success. (Especially because success looks different for every person!) Instead of rushing your process and putting unrealistic expectations on yourself, focus on what you’ve accomplished already. And be patient! You will get there in time.
Featured Image Credit: Cayley Nossiter