Many of us begin our working lives with strong aspirations while others of us drift along aimlessly until we find a niche that fits. Yet regardless of when we become aware of the direction we want to take, goal setting is the key to achieving the career path of our choice.

Before we discuss how we can stay on track and achieve our career goals, let me ask you a few questions…How many of you are on the career path that you chose for yourself? If you have deviated, how did you get off track? Was it for better or worse? Are you happy with the direction your career is taking? There are many questions you can ask yourself in order to understand why you get up and repeat the same job over and over each day, if you are satisfied in your current position and why you don’t seek an alternate role. But how many of us are actually asking ourselves these questions?

Achieving our goals can be challenging. To make it easier, here’s a little script for you to follow:

  • Clearly define your goal
  • List the benefits of achieving each goal
  • Determine the steps you need to take to succeed
  • Set a realistic deadline for achieving your goals
  • Clarify what resources you need to accomplish each goal i.e. further training
  • Once you’ve reached your deadline, evaluate your ability to achieve your goal, and if necessary, assess why you did not succeed

Once you have identified what your key values and interests are and clearly defined your goals, divide them into two categories – those you can achieve within the next twelve months, and those you can achieve in the following five years. Listing your goals in a table format according to the above six categories will help you to stay focused on what is important to you and what you need to do realise your career objectives. Being able to articulate your vision before you take action will be a key factor in accomplishing what you set out to achieve.

Narrowing your focus to what is important will allow you to track and measure your progress. It will also continuously motivate you as you are always striving towards a target. It is important to enjoy your working life as you spend so much of your time within the workplace environment. Having a purpose will increase your job satisfaction. So many of us simply respond to the beck and call of the daily alarm and grind out a day’s work without any true understanding of what it is we are trying to achieve. If this sound likes you, are you working to live, or living to work?

It is not enough to simply have a set of career goals. You must work your plan if you are to succeed in carving out your career of choice. It is wise to continuously reflect, review and update your goals. Undertaking this on a weekly basis will allow you to grow and achieve significant performance gains over a sustained period of time. And as these are your goals, you must commit to taking personal responsibility for the success or failure of your career aspirations. Taking action may mean that you have to work hard and take chances, after all, risks are just opportunities in disguise.

Career goals come in many formats; new experiences, increased earnings, attaining a leadership role, or increasing skills and knowledge. Regardless of your ambitions, you will be more successful in realising your career objectives if you create and implement a plan. Always being self-aware of what is important to you will allow you to define a clear direction, provide the motivation required to keep moving forward, and give you greater accountability over the course your career takes. You may not achieve all your career goals, and there is never a guarantee that you will, but you can certainly influence your ability to enjoy a rewarding career. So why leave your career success to chance?

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