A brand new year has begun. With this comes the need to make changes in your life for many individuals. One of the most best ways to accomplish this is to set goals - targets that define what you wish to get at the conclusion of a specific process. Setting goals can be done in several areas of your life - your private life, your finances, or your career, just to name a few. In this post I’ll be outlining the value and the strategy of setting good career goals.

Why Should I Set Career Goals?

The key reason why you should be setting career goals is so that you are able to achieve satisfaction with your career. There must be a good reason why you became a member of the IT field. Do you have a certain job title in your mind? Are you looking to work for a particular company? Would you like to have a certain annual salary? As said before in a post on setting long term goals on your IT career, if you don’t know where you’re going, then you won’t know when you get there.

Setting goals will help you figure out where you strive to be, what you need to do to get there, as well as how long it should take. I prefer to set both long-term and short-term goals for my career, along with other areas of my life. As an example, my long term goal is to develop into a qualified IT project manager. Knowing this will help me make decisions that align to that goal.

Setting Long Term and Short Term Career Goals

It’s advised to set both long-term and short-term career targets, because it gives you something to target in both the short and long term. Generally, short-term means anything up to three years, and long term is anything more than three years.

Start by establishing long term goals. This should be what your ultimate image or picture of your career is when you feel the most content. This is something that you’ll be focusing on in at least three years. It might even be longer than that - it may be five, ten, or twenty years - so long as it’s your own goal. As stated before, my long term goal is to become a qualified IT project manager.

Short term goals come next. These are the goals that will enable you to get even closer your long-term goal. They normally have a target date of under three years. They need to align to your long term goal and stick to the SMART method mentioned below. Working with my example above, a short term goal for me would be to get a junior project management placement.

Setting Good Career Goals The SMART Way

Among the most helpful ways of goal setting is applying the SMART technique of goal setting. The SMART approach is actually an acronym. All of the letters stands for one part of the goal, and while there are several alternative meanings for each letter, the general message is the same.

S - Specific. The goal should be a specific one, as it has a lot more chance of being reached. It should respond to the questions of “who, what, why, when and where”. A goal like “Get a promotion” is not a specific one. A more specific goal can be “Get promoted to a Senior Network Administrator in my current company”.
M - Measurable. The goal you set ought to be capable of being measured, so you recognize that it is on track and when it is performed. A goal like “Get a raise” is not very measurable. A much more measurable goal is “Get a gross salary raise of $5,000 after my annual review this year”.
A - Attainable. The goal needs to be achievable. It needs to be not too easy, but not impossible to get. When you understand that a goal is attainable, then you start focusing on it more and this gives you the confidence that you need to succeed and achieve the goal. The goal above of getting the $5,000 raise may be attainable - a goal of getting a $50,000 raise in all probability wouldn’t be attainable.
R - Relevant. A goal needs to be relevant to you and your career in order to work. It can meet all the other criteria, but if it doesn’t provide you with the satisfaction to you or get you further on the way to your long-term goal then it isn’t relevant.
T - Timely. The goal that you set really should have a time constraint given to it. It needs to have a deadline or intended date as to when it ought to be achieved. It's done this way to encourage you, to allow you achieve the goal in the given period of time and begin the next one. Goals without times are only visions or dreams - they have no set date and as a consequence no concept of failure. Any time you set goals, place a time constraint on it - it could be the end of the year, within six weeks, a particular date in the future. As long as it has a date (which also meets the Attainable criteria) then it is timely.

Setting up good career goals, for both the long-term and short-term, should allow you to advance your career and allow you to give attention to what’s important to you. I hope you’ve found these details useful, and I encourage you to set goals for your career if you haven’t done so already!

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