How to set professional goals that will help you crush your career aspirations.

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Check out the benefits and some helpful tips when setting career goals.

Do you want to advance in your career, but you’re not sure how to get started? Well, setting professional goals is a great place to start.

It can be tough to know where to start when it comes to advancing in your career. Believe me, this is one of the things I struggled with the most.

There are so many things you could do, and it’s hard to figure out what will actually help you move up the ladder.

Or even as simple as knowing what the right career path is for you.

Setting professional development goals is the key to advancement. By setting specific goals and planning out a strategy for achieving them, you’ll make steady progress towards your ultimate career goal. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to set effective professional goals that will help you crush your career aspirations!

What are professional goals and why should you set them?

Professional goals are the milestones you need to accomplish in order to develop your career. By setting professional goals, you can determine what skills and connections you’ll need along the way.

Then, when your 5-year vision is complete, you’ll have a tangible idea of how far you’ve come.

So start by asking yourself: “What do I want my career to look like in 5 years?”

Then you can work your way backward and set short-term career goals. What do you want to accomplish by next month? next year?

In the past, many workers may have been content to take a position and stay in it until retirement. But today’s workforce is far more complicated than that.

I hate to say it but it is much easier to advance if you switch jobs and especially if you switch companies. It leads to quicker promotions and quicker raises and who doesn’t want that.

I don’t want to say job loyalty is dead but it is definitely changing. It’s good to try out different things and different goals to find the right career path for you. I do believe it is leading people to be more fulfilled in their careers than ever before.

To learn more about creating a 5-year plan, check out this article from Indeed.

setting career goals

One of the most effective ways you can achieve the career of your dreams is by setting applicable professional goals. These could include gaining a certain level of skills or confidence, obtaining a particular certification, or getting a promotion.

The options are endless, the important thing is to set effective goals.

It’s important to remember when creating these goals that your professional life takes up a lot of time and requires hard work so make sure your big goal is actually something you love and enjoy doing.

Many of us spend 40+ hours a week at our jobs so you want to be spending that time doing something you enjoy. Otherwise, you’re going to feel unfulfilled and unmotivated to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t want that for you. I want you to live an amazing life.

Setting short-term and long-term goals

Since setting professional goals can be overwhelming, the first step is to create an action plan. Part of this plan should be breaking your goals down into short-term and long-term goals that will help you get to your career vision.

Short-term goals are the steps you need to take to achieve long-term professional goals. You should also think about how your short-term goals will help you achieve specific aspects of your 5-year vision.

For example, if your vision is to become a marketing manager at a fashion company, some of your short term goals may be to attain a certification in marketing, work on your soft skills, or learn more about the fashion industry.

Think of the new habits you will have to learn to be the person that is a marketing manager. This is a great way to think of some new goals. For inspiration on what you need to do, you could look at a job description for a marketing manager and see where the gaps are in your experience now.

We’re not reinventing the wheel here so checking out other marketing managers’ career paths in the fashion industry is another way to think of some goals. Get out of your comfort zone and reach out to one and ask to have a quick chat about their career. After all, people like to talk about themselves.

Long-term career goals are the overall milestones you aim to achieve. You should write it down on a sheet of paper or in an online document so that you can track your progress towards them over time.

Your long-term professional goal will likely map out what you need to do first, second, and third to reach your career success.

Setting S.M.A.R.T goals

In order to set effective professional goals, you should make them as specific as possible.

One way of doing this is by making your goals S.M.A.R.T — that’s an acronym for the following: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the components of smart goals:

Specific

When your goals are specific, you’ll have a clear understanding of what’s required of you to achieve them. If they’re not, then it will be hard for you to know when you’ve reached the finish line.

Making your goals specific is an important part of avoiding frustration and achieving success. Since then you know exactly where you want to go.

Measurable

You want to know that you’re making progress toward your goals. This is why you need to create measurable goals so that you can track your progress over time.

For example, let’s say your goal is to start your own business so you can quit your 9-5. That’s too broad, so you need to make a more specific goal. What sort of income would you need to make? When do you want to quit your job? Do you want a specific amount of money saved up?

Attainable

Your professional goals should be achievable goals, but that doesn’t mean they have to be easy. You just need to understand that it’s possible for you to achieve what you’re shooting for.

If your goal is too large, then break down the steps needed to get there.

Going back to the starting your own business example, if your goal is to make a million dollars by the end of the year, if you’re at ground zero, the likelihood of you achieving that goal is very slim.

When I started my business, my goal was to make $10,000 by the end of the year. This wasn’t easy but it was achievable if I put in the work.

Relevant

Your professional goals should be relevant based on what you hope to accomplish. If it isn’t a relevant goal to what you want from your career, then it will be difficult to know why you’re working towards it.

So make sure you take some time to reflect and determine if this short-term goal is really worth your time and if it will be impactful towards your career success.

Timely

Your goals should have a time frame associated with them so you know when they need to be completed. When you don’t set a time frame, then it’s difficult for you to keep track of how much progress you’ve made toward your goal.

So if you want to quit your 9-5, make it time-bound. Put it on your calendar! Then work on creating smaller goals towards that date.

If your goal isn’t time-specific, it makes it easier to procrastinate and put things off until tomorrow.

Another example of this is if you want to find a new position that will help you advance your career. You should set goals for this based on the time it will take to complete certain actions, like applying for jobs or researching companies.

Now that you understand how to create professional goals, let’s talk about what they can do for you.

The benefits of setting professional goals

There are several benefits associated with setting professional goals, including the following:

setting goals for your career trajectory

Financial growth

Your career goal may be to earn a promotion or get a raise. These are important milestones that you should track over time so, when it’s time to ask for what you want at work, you know how much money you can request based on your career advancement.

After all, if we’re setting professional goals, we’re going to work harder since we have a clear path. Harder work can lead to raises and promotions because you’re putting in the reps.

If you don’t set professional goals, you could become very stagnant and you don’t want that. You aren’t reading a personal development blog if you want to live an ordinary life. You want to be extraordinary and I believe in you.

Improved focus and performance

Goals keep you focused on the things that matter most to your career, like showing up each day ready to work. They also help you prioritize the tasks at hand so you can get more done in less time.

It’s important to take some time to identify your why. Why do you have these career aspirations? What’s going to motivate you to keep going on days where it isn’t easy?

If you have a strong why, especially if it goes beyond yourself, you are going to be more driven and it will be easier to crush your goals.

Increased self-esteem.

When your goals are specific, you’ll begin crossing off those milestones as they become a reality. Seeing those big-picture goals develop can help you feel confident about your ability to make them a reality and achieve what you set out for.

Every time we keep a promise to ourselves, we become more confident in our abilities. If we set professional goals, break them down into actionable steps, it’s going to give you so much clarity. With that clarity, you’ll be able to accomplish all your goals which is going to make you feel like a bada$$.

Goal Setting Tips for achieving your work goals

professional goal setting

Now that we talked about how to set professional goals and the importance of using SMART goals, and even the benefits of setting goals, I’ll give you some tips.

You know, just in case you need a bigger push to get you going.

So without further ado, let’s look at some tips for achieving your professional goals:

Know what you want.

It can be easy to lose track of why you’re working towards something if you don’t have a clear vision in mind. This means knowing what is most important to you in your career so that when things get difficult, it keeps you going.

Take some time to journal and reflect on what you truly want. Come up with your why. You won’t regret taking this time to gain some clarity and a clear direction forward.

Focus on the process, not the outcome.

Sometimes it can be hard to stay committed to a goal when you’re worried about what might happen if you don’t achieve it. Or sometimes you get too tunnel-focused that you miss out on life. If I’m being honest, the process is going to take time. If you have BIG career dreams, it is going to take a lot of time.

AND, once you hit that big career goal, you’re going to want to make a NEW career goal. Get to that next level.

That’s how it works when you’re an ambitious woman after all. So you might as well enjoy the journey! If you trust the process, you’ll get the outcome you desire.

Stay accountable to yourself.

Your goals should be personal so that you can stay committed to them throughout the process. Find a way to put some skin into the game or find a way to hold yourself accountable! It’s important that you put your best foot forward and keep this promise to yourself! Because if you procrastinate or decide not to try, you are only hurting yourself. Your loved ones may be a byproduct of this as well. No one is going to come save you. You are in charge of your destiny.

Create small wins.

career focused goals

Breaking your big-picture goals down into smaller goals can create more achievable milestones that can help you feel more confident about your ability to reach them. When you’re able to check off each mini-goal along the way, then it can help fuel your motivation and keep you inspired during times of uncertainty.

Take some time to celebrate those small wins by doing something you love. This could be anything from getting a pedicure to going out to dinner with your significant other.

Practice patience.

While sprinting towards a goal is great for short-term motivation, you shouldn’t neglect the importance of sticking with it over time. When you focus too much on the end result, then it can feel discouraging when you get closer to that goal and still don’t achieve it.

Be flexible.

Even though it’s important to be committed to your goals over time, you also want to remember that things don’t always go according to plan in the workplace. Be open to adjusting your goals so they can continue to help you achieve what’s most important.

Remember that no matter what your goals for your career may be, setting specific and achievable targets will help you stay motivated during even the toughest times. Just don’t forget to include a time frame with each goal so that you can keep track of how much work is left to do!

Examples of Professional Goals

professional goal setting to advance career

Now that we’ve gone over the importance of setting professional goals, let’s look at some examples. Hopefully, this list will give you some inspiration when you’re setting your own goals.

I’m purposely keeping these vague. You’ll want to make them S.M.A.R.T.!

  • Take a course to increase your professional knowledge
  • Learn a new tool or new skills
  • Improve your presentation skills to become a better public speaker
  • Check out job postings and other departments
  • Get a new job that better aligns with the ultimate goal
  • Improve communication skills to enhance team collaboration
  • Meet new people to build out your network.
  • Improve time management skills
  • Solve a problem in your current role
  • Become your own boss.

Setting professional goals can help you achieve your career aspirations. You should set short-term and long-term goals that will help you get to that 5-year vision, and it all starts with setting work-related goals. Goals provide a vision, clarity, they should be measurable and they can help you stand out! Just don’t forget to include a time frame with each goal so that you can keep track of how much work is left to do!

A lot of the tactics in this post can also be carried over to your personal life. Remember, it is all about work-life balance nowadays! So make sure you’re setting some personal goals as well.

Let me know in the comments below what your professional goals are! What is your long term goal?

until next time,

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