Setting career goals, where do you start?
3 things to focus on to help you identify your career goals
- What do you want to do when you grow up?
- What do you want to be when you graduate?
- What’s your dream job?
- What will make you happy at work?
- What do you want to achieve career wise?
- What do you want your future to look like?
Sounds familiar? So many questions you continually ask yourself and others constantly ask you. Oh the pressure. Surely at ‘your’ age you should have all the answers?
We’re constantly bombarded by the media, social media and society with images of having the perfect life, a wonderful career and a fantastic future. We’re often told we can “have it all!” As adults it’s likely that we’ll be spending more than half of our waking hours working every day – a massively large proportion of our time and life. So how can we get into the right career and perhaps even find our dream job?
A few fortunate people might find their right career by luck, however for most of us it will take a little bit of planning. Planning that starts with establishing your career goals and then TAKING ACTION to achieve them.
In addition, studies show that having obtainable (*SMART) goals and objectives can lead to increased job satisfaction, increased self-esteem and improved well-being. With this in mind, spending some time planning your career path seems to make perfect sense – so what’s stopping you?
What is a career goal?
Some people find it hard to identify what a career goal is – they are simply the things you want to achieve in your career. They are where you want to end up and how you want to get there. Identifying and setting your career goals is like using and referring to a map (Google Maps or the TFL underground map!) before you take a trip. Without it there’s a good chance you’ll get lost, get side-tracked or spend lots of time wandering aimlessly about.
If your career is a destination, your goals are the map!
For most people the actual problem in setting career goals is where to start.
1. Have a career vision
Your vision can be as specific or as broad as you like. It might help to think about and focus on:
Your ideal job
- The perfect role you see yourself in
- Your dream career
- Work you have previously enjoyed
- When and where you are most productive
- When and where you enjoy yourself the most
- What you believe are your strengths, skills, talents, abilities
- What others say are your strengths, skills, talents, abilities
- Explore ideas outside your comfort zone to see where your career boundaries lie
Writing down your career vision, or keeping it on your phone or laptop and using it as a regular reminder will help keep you focused and following your career map to your final destination.
2. Define and understand your values
We each have different values and they may vary greatly from person to person. It’s essential YOU understand the unique make-up of YOUR value system. Ooooo, sounds like you need to do some meditation and in depth self-refection. Don’t panic, there’s no need to get too deep here (unless you want to), it might help you to focus on:
- What’s important to YOU
- Your deep-rooted beliefs and morals
- How you want to make a difference
- How you want to be remembered/your legacy
- Things that make you feel energised in your work
Once you’ve identified 3 – 5 of your most important values I’d recommend that you write 2 or 3 sentences describing or summarising how YOUR values will translate into your ideal job. Keep this close to hand and review it regularly. Knowing what’s important to you will also keep you focused and following your career map to your final destination.
3. Recognise what makes you happy and your motivation
Now to some people this might sound a bit ‘happy clappy’, broad or even trivial however I believe it’s really important you understand the difference between your own happiness and what the media, social media and society say will make you happy. Do any of these make you happy and motivate you?
- Prestige in your role
- Flexible hours, working 9-5, a work/life balance
- A high income, having a stable income
- People contact
- Career advancement
Only you will know your true happiness and motivation. By defining these, you’ll know where your career boundaries lie and this will keep you focused and following your career map to your final destination.
Focusing on these 3 things will help you to identify your career goals and support you in creating your career map. Over time your vision, values, happiness and motivation are likely to change so these are 3 easy steps I often refer back to when working with clients to help them in their career quest.
If you’re looking for more career advice and support come on over and join the Your Career Quest private Facebook group – click here to join. I’d love to see you there.
P.S. *SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound