Learn how to set tangible career goals, for both the long term as well as shorter term, that transcend any one path and enable flexibility to adapt as needed.
- The only thing standing between you and making your career vision a reality is translating it into tangible goals. To help you do this, I'll walk you through a few steps to create some simple but actionable milestones. You can use part six of the Career Map worksheet in the exercise files to get started. Let's begin with the question what needs to be in place for your career vision to become a reality? In other words, what major milestones will you need to achieve.
Take a moment to jot down everything that comes to mind. Sometimes answering these questions can feel overwhelming. This is especially true if, like me, your mind jumps to trying to solve for how you'll achieve everything. It's important at this stage to suspend any judgment about how and solely focus on what. Sometimes it helps to see an example. Let's look at one from a woman I recently coached named Abby. Abby's career vision was to become a well-respected leader in the gaming industry.
Abby's next step was to think about what milestones she needed to achieve to make this vision come to life. First off, she needed to be promoted into a manager role, as she was currently an individual contributor. To be promoted, she needed to improve her performance rating to the highest there was on the company's performance scale. She believed that to achieve the higher performance rating, she needed to lead a high-level project that would give her an opportunity to be seen as a leader.
The easiest way to set career goals is to work backwards, like Abby did. She started with knowing she would need to be promoted to a manager role, and then kept asking the question what would need to happen for that goal to be achieved. This methodology will help you create a set of related goals that you can put timeframes to. Here are some additional longer-term career goals others have shared with me: get promoted within the current organization, earn a management title, earn an advanced degree, change industries, or start a new business.
Most long-term goals don't happen overnight and will take the achievement of some shorter-term goals to make them happen. Here are some examples of shorter-term career goals that support some of the longer-term goals: double your sales or productivity, become known as an expert in a certain field, create a website to test your business idea, delegate work more effectively to boost your own productivity, update your resume and cover letter, or earn a certification in a specific subject matter.
Now that you have a list of ideas, it's time to narrow it down to just a handful of the most important. I recommend identifying one to two long-term career goals. These are usually ones that can take anywhere from one to three years to achieve. Then identify two to five shorter-term goals that, if achieved, would give you the best possible chance at achieving your longer-term goals. Short-term career goals could be anywhere from one month to a year.
Regardless of your time frames, these goals should all be connected. Remember, we're living in an ever-changing world, so our goals can flex as needed. The objective is to give yourself clarity on what's most important. This will help you focus your energies on what will most accelerate your career growth.
- How the workplace has changed
- Creating a career vision
- Creating short- and long-term goals
- Mobilizing: Identifying resources, mentors, and your online brand