Realistic steps to achieve your career goals

Many of us have big dreams, goals and ideas of what we would like our careers to look like and if managed correctly, they can be the driving force behind us becoming successful and happy at work. However, frustration, disappointment and disengagement can follow if we set these goals within an unrealistic timeframe or at too higher level. Therefore, it’s important to acknowledge the longer game involved in achieving employment goals, the stepping stones needed to build up to the end goal and the adaptions and compromise that may need to be made.

Below are some key points that will support you in setting achievable career goals:

Create a clear definition of what your goal is:

What’s your vision of your ideal career? Where would you like to be in one, three or five years’ time? Break that vision down to:

  • What does your job involve?
  • What type of skills have you developed? What are you excelling at?
  • What type of responsibilities do you hold?
  • Who are you working for and who are you working with?

Once you have created a clear end vision you can then bring it back to the present moment and breakdown the steps needed to be made between now and then.

Setting achievable shorter term goals:

When breaking your career goals down to what’s achievable in the present i.e. the next few weeks or months, it’s important to ask yourself out of 10 (0 – not at all, 10 – can achieve) how realistic or confident you feel about achieving that smaller short-term goal. If you fall below a 7 out of 10, then you pull your goal expectations back until you can score 7 or above. This means you are more likely to set yourself up to succeed, and once successful with achieving those smaller goals, you can keep adding one realistic goal at a time.

Believing in your dreams:

The importance we place on our career goals and the language we use can really influence how likely we are to be successful.  Therefore, picking a goal that aligns with our values and passions and using language like “I will” rather than “I might” will help move dreams into successful realities.

Play the long game:

While we can mostly develop a clear end vision, it is almost impossible to predict where the path in between now and the end goal will take us. This might mean at times we need to take opportunities that might take us off on a tangent and take on roles that don’t fit with our initial vision. However, if we think of each experience as adding a rung on our ladder to our desired success, we don’t need to let go of our dreams just because we had to take a couple of detours to get there.

Look out for yourself:

Pursuing career goals can be extremely rewarding and satisfying, but it can also be mixed with disappointment, self-doubt and impacts on our work life balance. Therefore, it’s important to practice self-care strategies while you are pursuing your goals, such as ensuring you are taking time to relax, spend time with loved ones, eating well and taking time to exercise.

Remember while goals and dreams are important, your self-worth and happiness shouldn’t be contingent on achieving them. You’re worthy because you’re human and contentment can be found in the present moment by focusing on the smaller things that make life rich. What we achieve in our careers doesn’t have to define us and often what we achieve outside of work in the end will be much more important!



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