How to set goals for a new career path
Careers guide: We show you a SMART way of thinking (that’s an acronym, yo) that shows you how to set short term and long terms goals for the career of your dreams.
Why set career goals?
To obtain the career you dream of, you need to set some realistic goals first. Look upon goals as navigation tools, a sort of ‘sat-nav’ for the journey on your new career path. You may encounter some twists and turns on the way to your desired destination. Highlighting and defining these twists and turns accurately before setting off on your journey will both prepare you and give a fighting chance of success.
Goal setting is particularly useful if you are planning to enter a career or industry that is popular or particularly competitive, which can be daunting for anyone.
There are two types of goals you must set, both short-term and long-term.
What are my short-term career goals?
These should be achievable in around one to three years. For your long-term goals to be achievable, you must achieve certain objectives beforehand.
Your short-term career goals could range from any of the following:
- Education/training course
- Advertising your CV
What are my long-term career goals?
These goals should be achievable in around three to five years. These goals may be the stepping stones to the top of your new profession once you have successfully entered the industry.
Your long-term career goals could range from any of the following:
- Pay rises
- New tasks with the role
- Progressing to a better/certain company
- A better CV
- Starting your own business
Make sure your career goals are SMART! (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).
Specific: You must to be able to define the goal.
Measurable: You need to know when the goal has been a success and to what degree.
Achievable: You need to know you have the time, money and or dive to reach your goal.
Relevant: The goal must contribute to the career you are trying to achieve.
Time-bound: You need to decide how long the goal will take to achieve and how much time you realistically can afford.
A SMART short-term career goal
· If you would like you own law firm (which might be your ideal career) then a short term goal might specifically be a degree in Law.
· How can you measure the success of your law degree? By passing or receiving a first class degree qualification?
· Is a degree in Law achievable? Do you already have enough funds to begin a degree course? Can you finance it until the end? Do you have the time?
· Are you definitely picking the right degree? Would a different level of Law qualification be more relevant?
· Can you start and /or finish your qualification in an adequate time frame? A degree usually takes three years to complete. If you don’t want to take longer to complete your qualification than you need to, then stick to a time scale and don’t take a year out.
A SMART long-term career goal
· If you want to own your own Law firm then you may specifically need to rent or purchase premises to operate your company from.
· How would you measure the success of having premises? By the signing of a lease or exchanging legal contracts for the purchase of an office.
· Is your own premises something that is achievable? If one of you goals is to work for a Law firm before branching out on your own, then a Lawyers salary may enable you to afford a deposit on the rental or office premises or even purchase your own premises. Or maybe you will approach investors?
· Is an office relevant to the type of company you would like? May be you will not require premises at all, perhaps your motivation is to operate your company online, in which case you could have the option to do this from home.
· Would you have time to run your company from a separate office? May be you have a family and young children so operating an online business from home is a much better option for your personal circumstances.
Remember – you must be flexible! Goals are not set in stone and you must be willing to modify your goal as necessary. As you undertake your journey you may discover you need to take a different or unexpected turn in order to reach your destination.
Whatever your career aspirations, don’t allow a lack of SMART goals to hold you back. If you know exactly which goals you need to set yourself on the path to success then waste no more time. But if you have stalled on route to your destination then give yourself the occasional emotional nudge to remain focused and driven. Sometimes it is setting the goals themselves that ignites the focus and drive to begin with.