Setting Realistic Career Goals: Tips For Young Professionals

Many dread setting realistic career goals because they find it complicated. Some people also believe that they are not prepared to feel vulnerable in facing challenges. There are also some people that don’t know the importance of setting realistic career goals. Although there is nothing wrong with living in the moment, you must still seize every moment and take a step towards your career goal.

So instead of wasting your time planning for your next vacation trip, use your time planning realistic career goals instead. Setting your career goals early will help you define the correct actions and necessary steps to help you become successful and live the life you want.

What is a career goal?

A career goal is an action plan or a well-defined statement that guides you throughout your career so that you will hit your objective. In setting goals, you must first define your career goal and set realistic targets before coming up with steps or your career action plan to reach your goal. 

This involves setting up targets in a particular period of time and breaking down your target into two types of goals.

Two types of goals

A career goal is a profession an individual wants to pursue throughout his career. A career action plan must contain your short-term and long-term goals. Using long-term and short-term goals will help you be on the right track for your career plans.

Long-term goals

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

It takes several steps to complete your long-term goals and usually requires a timeline, daily planning, and effort in order to reach them.

Career goals fall under the long-term goal because it takes years and planning for you to gain experience, develop skills, and become successful.

Short-term goals

Short-term goals are something that you want to accomplish in the near future. These short-term goals can be completed in a day, in a week, in a month, or in a year. This goal leads you to your long-term goal.

Career goal examples

The first example is that 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 four years or so in medical school, and at least three years of medical residency.

The second example is that you want to double the revenue of your business. It is a long-term goal because it takes an ample amount of time, and you need to take several steps to achieve this goal. One of the steps you must do is analyze your current business standing, market trend, and competition. Then you can use the data you have collected to design a new marketing campaign to help you double your revenue.

Remember that a career goal does not have to be big, but it should empower you and make you feel hopeful or happy about your career and your future in it.

How to set your realistic career goals

You can use the following tips below to help you map your career goal effectively. Also, you must ensure that your goal meets the following criteria:

1. Your goals should be specific. 

Your goal must be clear, well-defined, and specific; otherwise, you won’t know where to start and won’t be able to focus on your goal.  

To make your goal specific, try to answer the following questions:

Who is involved in this goal?

What do I want to accomplish?

Why do I want to accomplish this goal?

Where is this goal to be achieved?

When do I want to achieve this goal?

For example, I want to gain management skills essential to becoming our project’s team leader, so 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 your action plan’s progress to know if you are on track towards attaining your goal. 

Measurements need numbers, so you must 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 or 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.

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 to 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 is my goal 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?

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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 for achieving your goal will help create focus and a sense of urgency. This will also help you stay motivated and help you with prioritizing your tasks. 

A goal without a deadline is just a dream. When setting a time-bound goal, try answering these questions:

What can I do today to be a step closer to my goal?

What tasks should I have completed this week?

When should I reach this goal?

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 five 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 a realistic plan, and have motivation—you will be surprised how much progress you will make each day.

Recommended Skill Success online course:

Goals: From Vision to Reality is an online course for people who want to take action and achieve goals by turning your vision into reality. By the end of the course, you will have learned how to set goals, the seven reasons why people don’t achieve their goals, how to define your life vision, and more.

Related Articles: 

7 Best Career Development Goals Examples

Time Management Tips for Achieving Your Goals

Top 5 Career Development Goals For 2020

Simple Tips On How To Set Your Financial Goals

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