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4 Golden tips for creating and achieving professional goals

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According to research by Accountemps, most employees say that goal-setting is important to their performance on the job. Here's how to create and achieve professional goals.

  • In order to create a career goals, you must first define what it means to you.
  • Career goals consist of both short-term and long-term goals.
  • There are several steps required to achieve your ultimate career goals, but with patience and diligence, you can reach the end goal.

Every employee has professional goals they'd like to achieve, and being able to do so in their current position is a key element of job satisfaction. Not only does it lead to more employee fulfillment, but those who can successfully complete their goals are more likely to receive raises and promotions, be more productive, and stay with the company than those that do not.

"Organizations benefit when employees have clear goals that help meet overall business objectives," said Michael Steinitz, senior executive director for staffing firm Accountemps. "Employees who can see a clear future with a company and feel supported in their professional endeavors are more likely to want to stay with the company.”

Career goals are well-defined statements that explain the type of profession you intend to pursue throughout your career. It's important for you to clearly define your career goals in order to help you come up with an effective plan of action. Setting unrealistic career goals may lead to disappointment down the line, but this shouldn't prevent you from pursuing your dreams. Developing a resolution is the simplest, easiest way to keep yourself motivated so you can achieve success – whatever that might look like to you.

Accountemps, a Robert Half Company,  previously conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. office workers aged 18 or older. According to the results, 93% of employees believe goal-setting is important to their on-the-job performance.

What is an example of a career goal?

Setting a career goal is an extremely easy process; all you need to do is have a specific target in mind. For example, if a teenager wants to someday be the CEO of a large automotive plant, they must go through several stages in order to achieve the end result.

The first phase is successfully completing their final high school exams. Following this, they might choose to enroll in a four-year university and focus their coursework on business management and/or engineering. While enrolled in college, they might work in a local automotive plant in an internship or entry level position. Throughout their studies as well as working their way up through different levels in the automotive plant, they will increase the chances of getting the position of CEO.

The difference between short-term and long-term career goals

In order to achieve your career goals, it's important to have both short-term and long-term career goals. For instance, the teenager whose primary goal is to become the CEO of an automotive company must achieve a series of short-term goals in order to achieve their long-term goal.

Short-term goals are those goals that can be achieved within a short period of time, such as finishing high school and completing the final exams within three to four years. The next short term goal may consist of working part-time at a local plant at an entry level for six months to a year. Completing all phases of the short-term goals will ultimately lead you to your long-term goal.

Map out your goals

Defining your career goals is only half the process. It is important that you set your mind to accomplishing the goals you have set. If you don't properly map out your goals, it will be more difficult to achieve them. When developing your career goals, it's important to meet the following criteria:

  • They're measurable. This can be achieved by setting a timeframe for your short-term goals as well as long-term goals, such as completing your business degree within three years.
  • They're realistic. You can actually achieve these goals, and have plans set in place to do so.
  • They're organized into a clear road map. Recognize the actions required to complete each step in your overall goal.

Tips for setting career goals

Based on the survey, Accountemps offered a few tips for workers who want to set and achieve their professional goals:

1. Work backwards from your end goal.

When setting professional goals, begin with your final destination in mind and then work backwards. Once you know where you want your current position or overall career to go, list out the steps that will ultimately lead you to your end goal.

2. Get detailed.

Break your larger goal down into small, specific, quantifiable, realistic and timely goals. Also, ensure that you have deadlines attached to each one to make sure you stay on track. The more detailed you are in setting each goal, the greater the likelihood is of you achieving it.

3. Put them in writing.

This may seem old school, but it's a very effective practice. Studies have shown that those who write down their career goals have a greater chance of achieving them when compared to those who do not write them down. You want to write down your goals so you can remember them and hold yourself accountable for accomplishing them.

4. Enlist your manager's help.

Accountemps found that only 25% of survey respondents met with their managers once a week to get performance feedback, and 26% met with their managers monthly. Steinitz noted that goal progress discussions shouldn't wait for the annual performance review. Instead, employees and managers should discuss this topic more frequently so any challenges in meeting goals can be addressed earlier.

"Managers can often remove obstacles, offer guidance and advice, or adjust goals so they're more realistic and attainable," he said. "Managers should ask employees about their work objectives and check in on progress regularly."

Steinitz added that managers should be upfront about expectations and ensure that employees' goals support overall business objectives. As an employee, you can "save time" and help your boss help you by clearly outlining how your goals connect to the company's mission.

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