Why you need career goals

Why you need career goals

Oct 18, 2022

When it comes to thinking about your future career and where you see yourself in five or ten years, it should fill you with excitement and possibility. What could that ideal self look like 5 or 10 years from now? It’s an exhilarating thing to think about and surprisingly helpful.

But often when we do this, something else happens. We leave the excitement and allow uncertainty, fear, and doubt to creep in. That inner voice emerges, saying “you can’t really pull all that off. Look at where you are today. Stop dreaming”.

And with that, we get on with the show with the same expectations for ourselves, the same pace and producing remarkably similar outcomes.

Here’s the challenge in this experience

If we truly want to achieve so much more in our careers, we need to believe we can achieve more, and you need to know HOW. This is where career goal setting packs a punch. It is the secret sauce to keeping you relevant and valued in your workplace.

Let me break this down and talk about career vision, short terms goals and how you identify those goals.

Don’t underestimate the power of career vision

Your career vision is simply a statement or visualisation of what you want your future self to look like. It is a mental picture of your amazing future.

Having a well thought through career vision allows you to have a powerful sense of purpose because it:

  • Shows where we are headed as a person
  • Provides motivation and inspiration to keep on going
  • Helps to keep us moving forward and move through obstacles
  • Provides focus
  • Gives us meaning and purpose to what we do.

And it’s a fun thing to do because it connects us with the things that are important to us. The vision may shift over time, but it serves as that north star that keeps us purposeful.

Short-term career goals will keep you agile and winning

So many of us are told we need a 5- or 10-year career plan that includes a clear final career destination. But this is not the approach that will keep you agile and contemporary.

It is incredibly difficult to anticipate the changes that can impact our career. There is unpredictability; therefore, job titles and role descriptions change frequently in today’s business environment. The role we might be aiming for in five years may not even exist in five years.

Therefore, getting clear on your short-term goals is the secret to winning at work. It allows you to REVIEW and REALIGN. Things are always going to change in the business landscape, from organisation structure to strategic imperatives. Creating short-term goals allows to respond to what is happening in the workplace and stay true to your vision.

How to set your short-term career goals

Many people who are invested in their career like to start their year by outlining some quite specific long-term goals and they hang onto them throughout the year.

As already discussed, my suggestion is creating a vision that excites you and then develop the short-term goals that support this vision and what is happening around you.

My recommendation is a quarterly goalsetting session attended by you exclusively. The idea is to keep it simple and as joyful as possible.

Do it in 10 minutes

I see so many women spending lengthy periods of time reflecting on what their goals should be, and this is great, but not entirely required. I believe you can identify your quarterly goals in 10 minutes. Let me explain how.

First, grab a pack of Post-It notes and a sharpie or pen. Then I want you to set yourself up in a space where you’re standing up in front of a door or wall or a mirror, so you can write on your Post-It notes and stick them up.

From there, you are going to set a timer for just seven minutes. In that time, you are going to brainstorm what you want for the next 12 months.

What career goals are you looking forward to celebrating? Is it to:

  • Be a confident presenter?
  • Get promoted?
  • Get a pay raise?
  • Switch careers?
  • Learn a new skill?
  • Attract a new sponsor?

Keep it simple!

In collating your ideas on the Post-It notes, don’t overthink it or overcomplicate it and don’t discount something because you think it’s too big a challenge or too trivial. Get it all down in the seven minutes allocated. My red-hot tip is to put some very cool music on to uplift and motivate you while you embark on this task.

At seven minutes, the alarm goes off and it is tools down. It’s now time to step back and look at what you have produced.

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