You’ve likely heard before that setting goals is highly useful for your career, but why exactly? What are some of the ways you’ll benefit as a professional because you’ve set goals to work toward? Here are a few of the main benefits of goal setting (plus a few tips for how to go about creating them):
1. You’ll hone your life focus. The process of setting career goals will help you take a step back and think about the far-off goals that guide your current actions. Where do you hope to be in five, 10 and 15 years? Once you answer those questions, you can steer your career in that direction and make career moves and other decisions that help you get there.
2. Goals help you organize your time. At a more granular, day-to-day level, when you’re busy at work, and it can be difficult to prioritize what you have to do. This leads to procrastination and wasted time. Setting goals forces you to evaluate all of your to-dos and separate those that are most important for your organization.
3. Big objectives will seem more achievable. Sadly, many people only dream of the things they desire but make no actual plans to turn those dreams into reality. Why? Because the sound unachievable all on their own. A goal-setting process allows you to think not just about the end goal but also the steps you must take to get there. It makes any efforts feel worthwhile because you can see that your work is helping get you one step closer toward the goal.
4. You’ll build and maintain stamina. It’s easy to burn out when your work feels directionless. Setting goals throughout your career helps give your work purpose—and purposeful work is much more stimulating. As you reach each milestone along the path toward your goals, you’ll experience a sense of pride and accomplishment. This serves as a continuous motivator to keep working hard and never give up.
Now, what is the best way to approach the goal-setting process? Here are a few tips:
1. Set a specific goal (or multiple goals for different stages and aspects of your life).
2. Write them down.
3. Break each goal down into smaller steps needed to achieve each goal.
4. If you don’t know everything you need to do to achieve your goal, do some research.
5. Create a timeline with deadlines for each step.
6. Identify any potential roadblocks and brainstorm ways to overcome them should they arise.
7. Periodically measure your progress toward each step.
8. If you get off track, revisit your steps to figure out where you veered off and commit to getting back on track.
9. Revise/add to your steps if needed.
10. As you make progress, make sure you stay close to your goals/game plan.
While there are benefits to letting things unfold in your career—great things happen when you are open to the possibilities, after all—giving thought to what you aspire to and how you intend to get there is an intentional way to go about things. Put simply, setting goals puts you in charge of your career. Take the initiative to engage in this process and build the foundation for the career you want.