Career Goals: What They Are and How to Use Them

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Creating Career Goals

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Career goals define what is really important for you from a career. What is it that will lead to contentment in your career? What career goals will enable you to use the skills and competencies that you most enjoy using? What career goals would provide you with innate satisfaction from your career on a daily basis?

In order to help you establish your career goals, we have prepared 3 questionnaires to understand more about yourself, and the environment, culture and ways of working that are best for you. Your will find these in the next section below.

“The 13% of the class who had goals, but did not write them down was earning twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals. The 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!”

Resources for Establishing Goals

Career goal example 2The following questionnaires will enable you to re-think your career goals. They will provide guidance on the types of roles, types of management and leadership, and the best environments for you.

Why Have a Career Goal?

People that have goals are far more likely to succeed. Forbes quotes some research into this area, and found that:

“The 13% of the class who had goals, but did not write them down was earning twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals. The 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!”

In other words, if you commit to clear and measurable goals you are far more likely to succeed than people that do not.

There are up to seven million bits of information coming into your body at any one time. However, the mind can only handle 3 to 8 bits of information at any one time. Usually, they are those bits of information to do with:

  • Your self-image – ever notice how you hear your name across a room at a party? It’s like the sea parts. That’s because it’s meaningful to you! Ever notice how you just dismiss compliments that you don’t believe? That’s because they don’t match your self-image even though they may be real!
  • Your needs – ever notice how you suddenly see places to eat when you are hungry? Or, petrol pumps that you can’t use (car mechanics garage, petrol stations on the other side of the carriageway) when you need fuel?
  •  Your goals – the mind is very creative and will find ways of solving problems that you give it. Here is a problem to think about. You need to get your shoes polished. Here is another. You need one hundred pounds that you don’t have with you. Notice how your mind works out ways of solving the problem for you. That’s what you do everyday at work. Now give it problems to solve (your career goals) as well as the reactive ones you face every day.
    Once you have your career goals, keep them and play it at least 3 times a day. They are your career goals, and you will noticed things to help you achieve them as long as it is on your mind.

Once you have your career goals, keep them and play it at least 3 times a day. They are your career goals, and you will noticed things to help you achieve them as long as it is on your mind. If you would like to know if they are the right career goals, click here for another exercise to help you.

Your Personal Vision and Career Goals

Career goal example 1What is it that you want to do with your career? What do you use to check your actions against in order to assess whether you are on track with your career goals? If you have clear answers to these questions, then you may already be focused on what you want to do and your career goals. Alternatively, you may have made a conscious decision to float from one thing to another, like a leaf in the breeze, never knowing where you will land next. It’s your choice. Remember, we are only here once (at least in this form) and those that actively set career goals tend to win. Most ‘leaf people’ have not made that decision consciously, but just fail to plan. Do you really want to be a ‘leaf person’?

Like an organisational vision, your personal vision provides a consistent framework from which to compare potential alternative career goals. It enables you to have a consistent approach in getting to where you want to be.

Writing Down What You Want (an Affirmation of your Career Goals)

In creating a vision, it is often helpful to specify a specific end goal. To do this, we need to go through a two-step process – affirmation and visualisation. Top business people, sports men and women, and others use these tools from the world of entertainment. These techniques can also be useful for all aspects of your life.

An affirmation is a set of words to specifically describe an event as if it has already happened. There are a number of rules to creating a strong affirmation, and therefore strong career goals:

  1. Write it down and keep it with you so you can read it over and over again.
  2. Make it specific.
  3. Make it measurable.
  4. Describe it as if you are already there. Using words like, “I am going to…” tells your mind you will always be on the way to obtaining the goal. Instead, use the words, “I am….”
  5. Use an action word such as standing, watching, sitting, and so on.
  6. There must be a feeling word such as joyfully, happily, confidently, and so on.
  7. Finally The affirmation must be about you.

Some examples of career goals using the affirmation technique could be:

  • “I am happily sitting at my desk as the new _____ Manager on the fourth floor of [location] on [date]”;
  • “I am confidently receiving the ‘Employee of the Month’ plaque from the Director of ____ at a reception at the [place] on [date]”.

career goal example 3In other words, decide exactly what you want and write it down in measurable terms in both time and space so that if someone else checked it they could say whether you had achieved it or not.

This will help you define your vision by creating an affirmed goal to which you want to progress. Use the template later to help you. First, here are interesting methods to help you further.

Some Questions to Help you Create a Career Goal

Here are just a few questions to help you think through some aspects to creating your personal vision. Spend some time considering these questions and then share your responses with a partner/peer group member, or someone who knows you well.

  • What would I really like to be and do in my life?
  • If I had unlimited time and resources, what would I do?
  • What are the four or five most important things to me at this time?
  • What are my greatest strengths?
  • What do I value most about my career so far? 

What it’s Not to Help Create Your Career Goal

Sometimes it is easier to describe what you are not, in order to obtain clarity on what you really are. Although this exercise is meant as a bit of fun, it also has serious learning points in identifying those aspects that may be counter to your personal vision and values. Imagine if:

  • An accountant said, “What difference does it make if we keep accurate records?”
  • A trainer said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
  • A customer service representative said, “Let the customers solve their own problems; we have our own needs to attend to.”

Now think about yourself and what you do and want to do with your life. These are career goals. Write down a list of phrases that directly conflict with these. Have a bit of fun, but also remember the very serious nature of what you are doing.

The most effective way of creating a personal vision is to begin with the end in mind. It should focus on what we want to be and to do. That way, you can create an overriding top-line goal.

Being Clever with Your Career Goals

There are two further points worth considering. Much depends on your personal psychology, but these tend to be helpful:

  • Set sub-goals. These are markers to say that you are on your way to the goal. This is to bite-size your seemingly ambitious goal. For example, if you are factory production supervisor, and one of your career goals is to become a lawyer, that may seem insurmountable psychologically. Therefore, break it down into stages. Stage one might be to study for the examinations at night school over the next 5 years. That could be further broken down into ‘attain a 75% grade average in year one’. The second marker might be to get a mentor who is already in practice. And so on.
  • Celebrate! Reward the brain so it wants more. This will motivate you. Celebrate every marker.
  • Rather than a job, think of it as a set of skills that you use. This has the advantage of helping you spot opportunities that you would never have thought of. Those skills that you really like using.

Create Your Career Goals

Use the following template to create your vision as a career goal, then use career dreaming to find out if it is something you really want.

Remember the rules to writing your vision (creating an affirmation).

Now make it very specific – how much? What’s the success? What are the undeniable measures? Where are you conducting the action (the location)?

career Goals vision

You can download this exercise by completing the form below. This will also enable you to register so that you receive our very latest articles and tips.

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Please provide your name and email address for your free download.

Alternatively, move on to the next section on this path by looking at your Personal Values. This will provide you with information on the best types of environments for you and help you define your goals more clearly.

Related Pages

These pages directly compliment and add further information to this area.

Free Personality Test Link

Your Personality and the Right Role



Culture and the right role

Culture and the Right Role



Visualising your Career Link

Visualising your Career


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