Often, people make the mistake of setting idealistic goals when it comes to their career. For example, people often create goals to achieve by a certain age. How many times have you heard, “by the time I’m x age, I’m going to achieve y”?
In these cases, the goal is not usually the issue. It’s the time frame. While there’s nothing wrong with time-based goals (“In 5 years, I want to achieve y.”), the fault lies in not assessing those goals based on where you are right now.
Could you be running the company by the time you’re a specific age? Sure, it’s a goal that could prove to be achievable for you, but thinking of it in that way does not help you create a realistic path to achieving the goal.
The reason? Well, simply put, life happens. There are parts of your career that are out of your control, a company’s downsizing for example. Additionally, your perspectives and values in life also evolve as you gain more experience—both life experience and professional experience.
Therefore, it is essential to the benefit of your career and your overall happiness, that you allow yourself the freedom to set reasonable goals and recognize that your goals, too, may evolve over time.
How to set reasonable goals to further your career:
Consider Your Values:
- What do I want my family/personal life to look like? This, of course, will vary depending on where you are in life, but should always be of consideration when making career decisions. If your career always takes you away from family or hobbies that motivate you, then you may end up missing a key component that keeps you feeling balanced.
Treat Time Frames with Care:
It is important to give yourself a measurable time frame in which to achieve your goals. However, you must create goals that are reasonable and realistically achievable within that time frame. For example, you’re not going to go from an entry-level position to CEO in two years (unless, perhaps, you start your own business).
You can, however, achieve a goal within three to five years if you consider where you are right now. Base your goals off of your current position. That’s not to say that you can’t aspire to be the CEO at some point in your career, but be realistic about the fact that it may not be in the three to five-year plan.
- Is this realistically achievable within x years? If so, then go for it and create a plan to get there. If not, step back and think about the stepping stones between now and that future goal and adjust your strategy accordingly.
- Do I have the skill set to achieve my goals? Sometimes achieving certain goals requires a specific skill set or career experience in order to accomplish it. As you set goals and create times frames to achieve those goals, consider what you need to do in order to realistically meet them.
Be Open to Change:
It’s no surprise that as you live life, your priorities, aspirations, and circumstances change. Therefore, it’s important to be flexible when it comes to goals, and it’s important to assess whether you’re on the path to living your most fulfilling life.
- Am I satisfied with my current situation? If the answer is no, you may need to do some soul searching to figure out what allows you to lead a more fulfilling life.
- Do my goals align with my personal and professional values? If you’re working outside of your personal and professional values, you’re bound to experience some internal conflict. Therefore, it’s important to assess whether your current and future goals consistently align with your values and your personal brand.
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