Setting Good Career Goals

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Published: 24th November 2014
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A brand new year has started. With this comes the desire to make changes in your life for many people. One of the most best ways to do that is to set goals - objectives that define what you would like to accomplish at the conclusion of a specific process. Goal setting can be done in many areas of your life - your personal life, your finances, or your career, just to name some. In this post I’ll be outlining the benefit and the technique of setting good career goals.

Why Should I Set Career Goals?

The reason you should be setting career goals is so that you are able to achieve satisfaction with your career. There has to be a good reason why you became a member of the IT business. Do you have a certain job title planned? Are you looking to work for a particular company? Would you like to have a certain annual salary? As said before in a post on setting long term goals for your IT career, if you don’t know where you’re going, then you won’t know when you get there.

Setting goals can help you decide where you want to be, what you need to do to get there, as well as how long it may take. I prefer to set both long-term and short-term goals for my career, as well as other areas of my life. As an example, my long term goal is to become an experienced IT project manager. Knowing this will aid me make choices that align to that goal.

Setting Long Term and Short Term Career Goals

It’s advised to set both long-term and short-term career targets, because it will give you something to target in both the short and long term. Typically, short-term is described as anything up to three years, and long term is anything above three years.

Begin with setting up long term goals. This should be what your most suitable image or picture of your career is when you feel the most satisfied. This is something that you’ll be focusing on in a minimum of three years. It might even be more than that - maybe it's five, ten, or twenty years - provided that it’s your own goal. As pointed out above, my long term goal is to become a skilled IT project manager.

Short term goals come next. Those are the goals that will permit you to get even closer your long-term goal. They typically have a target date of under three years. They need to align to your long term goal and adhere to the SMART method mentioned below. Using my example above, a short term goal for me could be to get a junior project management position.

Setting Good Career Goals The SMART Way

Just about the most helpful ways of goal setting is using the SMART procedure for goal setting. The SMART approach is actually an acronym. Each one of the letters stands for one part of the goal, and while there are several alternative meanings for each letter, the overall message is the same.

S - Specific. The goal needs to be a specific one, as it has a lot more chance of being attained. It should respond to the questions of “who, what, why, when and where”. A goal like “Get a promotion” isn't a specific one. A more specific goal would be “Get promoted to a Senior Network Administrator in my current company”.
M - Measurable. The goal you determine must be capable of being measured, so you recognize that it is on track and when it is achieved. A goal like “Get a raise” is not very measurable. A more measurable goal is “Get a gross salary raise of $5,000 after my annual review this year”.
A - Attainable. The goal must be achievable. It must be not too easy, but not unattainable. Any time you realize that a goal is attainable, you then begin focusing on it more and this offers you the self-confidence that you need to succeed and achieve the goal. The goal earlier of getting the $5,000 raise might be attainable - a goal of getting a $50,000 raise in all probability wouldn’t be attainable.
R - Relevant. A goal needs to be relevant to you and your career to be effective. It can meet all of the other criteria, but if it doesn’t give the satisfaction to you or get you further toward your long-term goal then it isn’t relevant.
T - Timely. The goal that you set needs to have a time constraint put on to it. It needs to have a deadline or specific date as to when it needs to be achieved. It's done this way to keep you motivated, to allow you make it happen in the given period of time and move on to the next one. Goals without times are simply visions or dreams - they have no set date and so no concept of failure. Whenever you set goals, place a time constraint on it - it could be the end of the year, within six months, a specific date in the future. As long as it has a date (which also meets the Attainable criteria) then it is timely.

Establishing good career goals, for both the long-term and short-term, should help you advance your career and allow you to give attention to what’s important to you. I hope you’ve found this information useful, and I encourage you to set goals for your career if you haven’t done so already!

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