Why is it that most employers don’t really lay out great goals for their employees to follow throughout their career? It’s like they throw you in the pond and let you sink or swim.
The sink or swim philosophy gives no real direction for the entire organization. Everyone is just out there doing their own thing.
It also leaves great people, like you, out there kind of scratching your head and wondering exactly how it is that you will be able to progress with your professional goals.
That’s why you’re here trying to learn more about how to make the most out of yourself, even though it would be easier to scroll through Instagram or Twitter. You’re the type of person who wants to be the best that they can be and the same goes for your career goals.
Well, it’s great that you’re here because I have been exactly where you are. I went through the same thing. I worked through developing goals for myself that were meant to carry me through my career and professional life. And honestly, it has made all the difference.
Your professional development goals are going to help you to stay on track and keep the big picture in mind no matter what each day brings. That’s why it’s so important to take this time to create these goals for yourself.
Developing your career goals
When you’re thinking about the goals that you are creating, make sure to keep the big picture in mind. Start with finding your why. Learning what drives you is the first step to having any kind of success with achieving your career and professional goals.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to create well thought out career goals that you have confidence in achieving. I talk about why failure is OK in my article on how to use short term goals and long term goals to create your ultimate success plan. But just because failure is OK, that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to succeed.
Goal setting is not always as easy as it sounds. You don’t always have all of the information that you need to know if you will be able to achieve your goal.
The best method of setting achievable goals is the SMART method which you can read about in this article. It makes you really think about how you are going about choosing your professional, personal, or career goals. You can use the SMART method for every category in your life.
What are career goals?
Career goals are extremely important to have for your sustained success. They are the goals that you will set for yourself to develop a little bit each day into your best self at work.
Professional development is one of the cornerstones to your career. Growing your skill set and knowledge base will be one of the key factors to your success.
Career goals are sometimes abstract and sometimes very clearly defined. You will use short term goals and long term goals together to achieve the highest level of happiness and success that you can.
Career Goals Examples
After laying the foundation for why you are working so hard, and learning about how to best set goals, now we can talk about some actual examples of career goals. Some of these will hit home for you and others will just seem like a waste of time.
One of the things that you have to think about when you’re looking at these examples of professional goals is that not everyone has the same starting point or world view. You might be 25 or 55 years old. Maybe you’re starting a brand new career after 10 years in a different field. You could be fresh out of college just looking for some direction for yourself.
If you grew up in the suburbs then you probably have a totally different world view than someone who grew up in the middle of a big city. That’s why your goals could end up being completely different, but that doesn’t mean that one set of goals is better than the other. It just means that you all have different whys and those whys lead you to having different aspirations.
These examples of career goals are not set using the SMART method. They are a little more broad. You will be able to take these broad professional goals and define them more clearly to your exact situation.
1. Improve your communication skills
One of the most important things in any line of work is the ability to communicate effectively. This includes being able to take extremely difficult concepts and break them down into simple precise thoughts.
Having the ability to give clear instructions or summarize a meeting effectively will set you apart from most of the crowd. Simply taking notes during a meeting and summarizing them in an email for the rest of the attendees will make you more valuable than you can imagine.
Communication skills are built through trial and error. As you develop your knowledge of any given subject, you will be able to have a much better understanding of how to effectively communicate that subject’s concepts to people who do not have as thorough of an understanding.
It will make you a “go to” person in your organization. That’s why having a goal of improving your communication skills can be so vital to your success.
2. Earn a reputation
You’ll notice that I didn’t put an adjective like “good” or “solid” before the word reputation. That’s because you need to decide what type of reputation that you want to have.
It’s extremely hard to change your reputation once you’ve earned it. Not impossible, but hard.
What do you want people to say about you when you leave a room? How do you want people to view you when they’re putting a team together? Will you be the first person they want, or the leftover that just rounds out the numbers?
Think about how you act in front of your peers. Is it in line with how you want them to view you? If not, make some changes. If so, keep up the good work.
Just realize that people notice what you do even if you don’t think so.
3. Lead yourself, and lead others
Before you can lead other people, you have to be able to lead yourself. Are you sleeping in until the last minute before you jump out of bed to run out the door? Are you taking care of your mental and physical health? Is there something that you know you could be doing better, but you just aren’t?
I think we have all been guilty of being bad at leading ourselves at one point or another. We don’t always practice what we know will be the best things for us. But it’s extremely important to make leading ourselves a goal to be able to develop ourselves personally and professionally.
Once you find out what’s most important to you, you can establish a solid code of conduct for yourself. People will fall in line after you.
4. Be a good follower
There are going to be times where you just need to let someone else lead. Don’t take these times as a challenge to your leadership abilities, take it for exactly what it is: someone else having leadership capabilities as well.
It may or may not be a professional goal for you to become a manager or move up the ladder, but no matter where you are in the chain of command, you will need to know how to follow others at times.
When someone gives you a task to complete, do it with a smile on your face. If someone else is leading your team, be the best damn team member they have ever had.
Understanding how to follow is one of the most important career goals to have.
5. Surround yourself with great people
Becoming part of a tribe is extremely important to your success. I wish I would’ve understood the power of a strong network much earlier in my working years. I thought I needed to do everything myself. I would try to mask my weaknesses by working extremely hard at completing tasks that I knew I wasn’t a good fit for.
Now I understand that it isn’t necessary to do that. It is so much better for you to have people around you who have strengths that compliment your weaknesses. Be honest with yourself about what you’re not great at, and let someone else take the reins for those tasks.
You become the people who you spend the most time around. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who you admire.
6. Continuously grow your skill set
Something that all employers will admire is a passion for learning. There will most likely be optional trainings available at your place of work. You should sign up for every one that you can.
Not only will these training courses develop your skills in whatever area they are teaching about, it will also open your eyes to other people’s ways of thinking.
The instructor will have a particular world view and skill set that has shaped them into being a person capable of teaching that course. There is a lot to learn a lot from someone who has a level of mastery in their craft.
Wrapping it up
Professional goals are vital to your success and setting them the right way can maximize your chance of being the best that you can be.
Take some time to sit down and think about the legacy that you want to leave for yourself. What makes you happy? How do you evaluate yourself? Keep these things in mind when you’re creating your goals.
Career goals are one of the most necessary things to have for your professional development!
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