Career goals not only help individuals achieve success, but help them to stay on a positive path in life.  As society continues to put more and more pressure on its people to succeed, the fear of failure has become an epidemic.  This fear has enveloped the lives of many who feel that they haven’t achieved “success” as society, or others define it.  The issue here of course, is the fact that success must be measured on your own terms.  Measuring personal success through comparison to others will often times act a demotivating factor. 


Goals are not only necessary for success, but are actually, necessary for a positive existence.  Think about a sharpshooter.  These precision shooters rely on their ability to hit a very small target from amazing distances.  What would happen if the marksman had a blindfold on?  Do you think his success rate of hitting the bulls eye would increase or decrease?  You can probably see where I’m going here.  You can’t hit a target that you can’t see  In your career, your goals are your targets.  If you have no goals, you are simply moving along in no particular direction.  Take a look at the next few paragraphs for a great goal setting exercise for career goals.  I also recommend reading Brian Tracy's Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want.  It is a great read.


Career goals have to be specific.  The more specific the better.  It has been proven that the more specific and detailed a goal, the better the chance of success.  So let’s take this and apply it to your career aspirations.  Let’s say that you want to become a Vice President in a few years.  Well, that’s great, but that’s not a specific goal.  A specific goal would read, “I intend to be promoted to Vice President within the Finance department of XYZ Company before December 31, 2013.”  So now you have a pinpoint target that in constrained by time.  The time constraint is very important. 


Now how do you get there?  A goal isn’t complete until it has action steps associated with it.  A career goal action plan might sound something like this: “To become a VP, I will need to meet monthly with my manager to go over my progress, I will need to keep my performance level at or above 95% and I will network with two Vice Presidents in our group per month.”  See how the action plan is built with the goal of hitting the target in mind?  Of course this will vary from business to business, but hopefully you get the idea.  Enlist the help of your superior within the organization to complete an action steps plan.  Most management level employees will love to hear this type of enthusiasm from a direct report.  Many companies will actually build out organizational goal setting programs.  Keep an eye out for something like this at your company.


The next goal-setting step is to set difficult, but realistic career goals.  There are a number of articles on goal setting that focus specifically on this point.  In this case, if you are fresh out of college, I would say that becoming a Vice President in one year is probably unrealistic.  You do not want to set yourself up for failure, but you DO want to challenge yourself.  A challenging goal brings with it a greater sense of accomplishment than an easy one.  But remember, keep it realistic!


Once you have your career goals set, you need to read them every day and measure your progress.  Write down a one paragraph goal list.  This should  include your specific goal, how you plan to get there, and the time frame within which it must be achieved.  Read this once in the morning and once before you go to bed.  You will be amazed at the results.  But you HAVE to do it.  Read it every morning and every night.  I can’t stress this enough.  Your subconscious will push you towards your goal.


Have any goal setting success stories that you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear them! Make a comment below.