While many professionals focus on goal-setting right before the new year, updating your objectives and creating strategies to hit your targets should be a regular occurrence. Luckily, setting great career goals is a relatively simple process, allowing you to continuously tune your objectives to keep your career on track. If you aren’t sure how to begin, here are two ways to set meaningful goals and outline actionable plans.
2 Ways to Set Great Career Goals
1. Traditional SMART Goals
When it comes to goal-setting, creating SMART goals is the quintessential approach. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, outlining the main points you need to hit when defining your objectives.
Developing SMART goals is usually a multi-step process. Often, you’ll start with a basic objective – like “secure a promotion” – and then refine it to meet the conditions of smart goals. For example, making it specific could involve identifying a particular job title. For the time-bound portion, you might set a six-month deadline.
Keep reviewing your goal and adding points until it aligns with all of the SMART criteria. That way, you have a well-defined target.
Once you know the objective, outlining a strategy to achieve the goal is easier. You’ll simply identify the steps you need to take to make it a reality. By being thorough with the breakdown, you end up with a series of mini-goals, giving you a functional roadmap to follow.
2. Backward Breakdown
Whether you use SMART goals or another strategy, envisioning the steps you need to take to achieve your objectives isn’t always easy if you use a standard chronological approach. If you’re struggling to identify key milestones for achieving your goal, consider using a backward breakdown instead.
Essentially, you’ll work in reverse chronological order. After reviewing your goal, determine the step that comes immediately before it’s achieved. Then, identify the action you need to complete immediately before that.
While the process still outlines the steps you’ll need to take, looking at it in reverse chronological order can sometimes make it easier. As a result, it’s a great technique if you run into a mental roadblock, allowing you to adjust your perspective and finish your roadmap.
Other Goal-Setting Tips
Each of the strategies above can help you set great career goals. However, if you want to go the extra mile to boost your chances of success, there are other things that you can do to help.
First, make sure to write your goals down, as well as all of the steps you need to take to achieve them. This makes your objectives feel more real and tangible. Plus, it can serve as a checklist, letting you monitor your progress and stay on target.
Second, consider discussing your career goals with others. This can make you feel accountable to someone, increasing the odds that you’ll follow through. However, exercise caution when speaking to your manager or colleagues. If your goals don’t align with the role you hold today or a position that’s available with your current employer, it may be best to restrict your conversations to only friends and family who will maintain your confidence.