The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them. -- Denis Watley
If you were preparing to travel to a new place, one of the first things you would do is obtain a road map to help guide you. When it comes to preparing to travel along your career path, you need the same kind of guidance and assistance, in the form of career goals.
Most of us have some vague goals in mind, but we don't always bring them into the focus necessary to achieve them. Setting and attaining clearly defined goals is necessary for successful job performance, career mobility and personal satisfaction. Goals help you build confidence, stay motivated and feel empowered.
Goals are not just for those starting out on a career. It is equally important for those in the middle of a career to set - or adjust - their goals as they gain experience.
What are the steps necessary to setting goals for your career? Here are steps to take that will help you identify, define and work toward achieving your goals:
1. Take a "self inventory" to determine your strengths and weaknesses, along with your personal wants and needs. Evaluate where you are now and where you would like to be in your job, your career and your personal life. What skills and certifications do you already have? What changes in your life would make you happier? What parts of your current job do you like? Are you happy with the money you are making? Do you like where you live?
2. Create a series of goals that are desirable enough to influence your actions. If you simply express a wish, it will have little power to help you achieve real results. Make sure each goal is something you really want, not just something that sounds good or that you hope will impress your friends and family.
3. One of the most important parts of goal setting is writing your goals down. The seemingly simple act of putting your goals on paper helps to make them real, and forces you to think more deeply and clearly about what you want to accomplish. Write your goals down in specific, positive terms, as if you have already achieved the success you desire. For example, a five year goal may be, "I am a project supervisor working in a warm weather state, making 25 percent more money."
4. Formulate both short-term and long-term goals and develop plans for achieving them. Visualize attaining your goal and work your way backward to "see" how you got there. Write down intermediate goals that are easier to achieve, but that will help keep you moving on the right path.
5. Identify strategies to achieve your goals. Use your own internal resources (experience, personality, education, etc.) and those you can obtain outside (contacts, references, mentors, etc.).
6. Determine in advance how you will reward yourself upon goal achievement. Having a tangible personal reward can help keep you motivated. Perhaps you will take a long desired trip, buy that new car or boat, buy new clothes or treat yourself and your family to a big party!
7. Frequently check your progress to help keep you focused and on target. Review your career goals every day! Then refer to them throughout the day when making decisions that affect your job. Make choices that will help advance you along the career path you have mapped out.
8. Develop new skills, make new contacts and seek outside assistance if necessary to help you accomplish your goals. Your goals should be set high, but also be reasonable. Having help in attaining your goals is not a sign of weakness, but of strength and commitment. Go back to school to get up to speed on new testing methods. Take a course in public speaking. Network at industry events to stay current. All will help you make progress on the way to reaching your goals.
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