5 Professional Goals for the New Year: Get on Track!

professional goalsEven though we’re a few months into 2014, it’s not too late to kick your career into high gear, or to get that dream job that you’ve been pining for.

Most people set health goals, promising to eat right, exercise more, or stop smoking, but in the process forget to set the same objectives in their careers. Setting both short-term and long-term goals in your career is a great way to stay on track and for you to stay driven, focused, and hungry for success. These goals will fulfill you on several levels, and you may even wind up with a few extra bucks in your pocket, or a fancy new title and office to be proud of.

Looking to set goals in your personal life, as well as your professional one? This course on discovering and accomplishing your goals will help get you on track in 2014.

How to Set Attainable Goals

Sometimes when setting any types of goals for themselves, people tend to be a bit unrealistic, or overwhelm themselves, and in the process, set themselves up for failure. In order to accomplish your goals, you want to keep them within arms reach. The following tips will help you set professional goals that you can actually accomplish.

  1. Analyze what you really want. Before you begin setting career-specific goals, you should ask yourself “Is my current career what I really want out of life?” If so, then begin setting goals for yourself. If not, then take some time to reflect, and figure out where you want to do. An important aspect of reaching goals is wanting to reach them.
  2. Be tough on yourself, but not too tough. It’s important that you expect a lot from yourself professionally in order to make strides in your career, but it’s equally important to be realistic.
  3. Focus on the short-term as a means to the long-term. While it may be inspirational to have on your list of goals “Be the president one day”, it’s a bit far-sighted. It may be possible to be president in 20 years, but you should probably focus more on moving from a cubicle to an office first or running for a small local office. Realizing that the overall picture is made up of a bunch of small paint strokes will get you focused on the more realistic goals.
  4. Don’t procrastinate. This one’s obvious, but you really do need to stay on top of this for it to work. A list of goals on a piece of paper is useless without you there to make sure they happen. This article on overcoming procrastination gives you tips on how to do what you’ve set out to do.

Professional Goals That Might Work for You

While everyone’s career is different, there are certain parameters for success that may be applied to pretty much any job. Whether you’re a garbage collector, or an art collector, a winemaker, or a census taker, there are certain steps to success that are universal, and when achieved, will get you noticed in pretty much any career path.

  • Network 

Both professionally and personally, networking is incredibly important. Whether or not it results in a job, talking to people will almost always enrich your life. It depends on who you ask, but the percentages of people who find their current jobs through networking is astounding (50% according to some sources, 80% others). Once you’ve found your dream job, it behooves you to chat up anyone within arms reach, not only in the office, but especially in a situation where you’re surrounded by others who have achieved success and who may prove inspirational to you, like at a convention or other professional get-together. Not only is networking a means to achieving your professional goals, it should be considered a goal in itself.

This course on making networking work for you will help you get the results you want.

  • Increase Output, Decrease Cost

Chances are, that whatever your job may be, there are costs involved in doing it. If you are serious about impressing the boss as well as yourself, find a way to do what you do, but for less money. If you’re really clever, there may even be a way to do more for cheaper. This may involve streamlining, or totally changing a process, or simply doing what you do, but faster and better. This is easier said than done, but if you’re really on the fast track to success, you’ll be excited to do this.

  • Earn Promotions, Raises and Other Accolades

These are the spoils that you may garner if you achieve the last goal. While these may seem superficial, promotions and raises are very concrete goals that are your employers’ ways of saying “Good job”. Besides being motivational and confidence boosters, these goals provide the checklist for any successful career. While they may not always be financial in nature, getting a raise in title only, or an official commendation from the powers that be just feels good and lets you know you’re on the right track.

  • Earn a Degree 

If you never got a High School diploma, Bachelor’s Degree, or a specialized degree in your field, now might be a great time to do that. Some employers will not only reward workers for getting an education, they will even sometimes foot the bill. You may be a city worker who wants to finish college for yourself as well as a raise, or new to the finance world, where a master’s degree in economics could take you into the professional stratosphere – either way, getting that education will benefit you personally and professionally.

  • Do it for Yourself

Some claim the American dream is to work for yourself. If you find yourself treading water in a career that you love, it might make sense to strike out on your own and be your own boss. It’s hard work, but perhaps one of the most satisfying professional goals a person can have. If this is something you’re interested in, this course on entrepreneur training will help you get started.

These overarching professional goals can be applied to most any profession, with the themes of hard work, ambition, and teamwork being sought out in employees of many professions. While your long-term professional goals should be ambitious, make sure to keep the short-term goals attainable, yet forward-thinking. Our course in setting achievable goals will help you reach a long term vision with short term steps.