Setting Realistic Career Goals: Tips For Young Professionals

Why waste your time planning your next vacation trip, when you can use your time planning your career goals instead? Setting your goals early in your career will help you define the correct actions and necessary steps that will help you be successful and live the life that you want.

Setting career goals is not that complicated. You just need to set your targets first before coming up with steps or your career action plan on how you will reach that target. Your career action plan must contain your short-term and long-term goals.

Long-term goals vs. short-term goals.

A career goal is a profession an individual wants to pursue throughout his career. This involves setting up targets in a particular period of time. Using long-term and short-term goals will help you be on the right track of your career plans.

To achieve your long-term goals, you must complete a series of your short-term goals first. This will usually take more than 2 years to accomplish.

Short-term goals are those you want to accomplish in the near future, approximately six months to two years.

For example, you want to be a doctor. Becoming a doctor is a long-term goal because for you to reach that target, you need to complete short-term goals: 4 years in college and another 4 years or so in medical school, and at least three years of medical residency.

goal setting

How to set your career goals.

These tips could help you map your goal effectively. You must ensure that your goal meets the following criteria:

1. Your goals should be specific.

Your goal must be clear and specific. To make your goal specific, try to answer the following questions:

Who is connected to this goal?

What do I want to achieve?

Why is this goal important to me?

Where should I achieve this goal?

When should I achieve this goal?

For example, I want to gain management skills essential to becoming our project’s team leader, so that I can manage my team members successfully.

2. Your goal should be measurable.

You must come up with how you can measure your goal. This is by establishing criteria for measuring the progress of your action plan to know if you are on track towards attaining your goal. Measurements need numbers, so it is important that you include the precise amount/number and date so you can measure your goals. Try using these questions as a guide in establishing measurable goals:

How much?

How many?

How will I know my progress?

For example, I will complete our quarterly leadership training programs and gain relevant experience before this year ends.

goal setting for young professionals

3. Your goals should be attainable.

The goals that you have set should be attainable or realistic, given the available time and resources. This does not mean that your goals should just like be a walk in the park. Your goals should stretch your abilities but still remain doable. Realistic goals answer these questions:

How can I accomplish this goal?

How realistic my goal is based on my current standing?

If you want to be a project leader, you need to ask yourself first if you have the skills and experience required for the job based on your current qualifications. For example, do you have experience in project management, planning, staffing, and supervision? Do you have time to complete the required training programs?

4. Your goals should be relevant.

Your goal should matter and should be significant; otherwise, you should discard it. When your goal is relevant to the direction you want to take in your life or career, you will be more focused on reaching your goals. These questions may help you determine if your goal is relevant:

Am I ready to pursue this goal?

Is this the right time?

Is this goal worth my time and effort?

Will this goal help me in my current situation?

Your goal is to become a project leader by the end of the year, but is this the right time to pursue your goal? Do you have the skills and experience required for the job? Will this career goal affect your current personal situation?

5. Your goal should have a definite time frame.

Goals should be time-bound and should have a start and finish date. Setting a deadline achieving your goal will help create focus and sense of urgency. This will also help you stay motivated and help you with prioritizing your tasks. As what Robert Herjavec quoted, ” A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” that is why when setting a time-bound goal, try answering these questions:

When should I reach this goal? What can I do today to be a step closer to my goal?

What tasks should I have completed this week?

What mini-goals should I have completed this month?

What short-term goals should I have completed this quarter?

It is important that you set yourself a deadline that you should have completed your mini-goals or short-term goals that are needed to achieve your long-term goals.

These are 5 easy steps that you could follow and practice in achieving your goals. You can be anything you want to be and achieve anything you want in life as long as you have the courage to pursue your dreams, set realistic plan, and have motivation—you will be surprised at the progress you will make each day.

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