Why it's Important to Set Effective Career Goals

Posted on 24/7/2022 by Duane Cormell

Goals: easy to set, hard to achieve, essential to succeed  

If you're not quite satisfied with your job or are feeling frustrated about where you're at, it might be because you don't have a clear sense of where you'd like to be. Putting in place goals is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success in your career.

 There are several risks associated with not having a clear goal; however, the most likely thing to happen is that you might get stuck in a career rut. 

By not having or working towards a clear goal, you can get comfortable in your routine and, in turn, become complacent and unknowingly forget to strive for your full potential. This can make your progression stagnate.   

Without a goal, you might end up becoming disillusioned in your work and start to feel negative about yourself, your job or your employer. This may have an impact on your productivity and performance, which then will affect the likelihood of you progressing in your role. It can be a very easy downwards spiral.   

On the flip side, there are a number of positives associated with setting clear career goals.

1. With goals you have purpose  

Your purpose explains ‘why’ you’re doing what you’re doing. With a purpose, you'll be able to visualise the direction you’re going and the next stages along your career journey. This will motivate you to push that little bit harder and make you more resilient when tackling obstacles. Your goals are your reminder that you want better, you deserve better and you can achieve better. Don’t underestimate what they can do.  

2. You'll be alert to potential opportunities 

Goals can inadvertently make you more alert to potential opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise see so clearly.  

Here are two examples to demonstrate how having clear goals is beneficial in this way. Let's say we've got Person A. They don't have a specific goal, but are "happy enough" with what they're doing, comfortable in their day-to-day routine. When an opportunity comes their way to progress, perhaps an approach from a specialist legal recruiter, or perhaps even just representing themselves well in an appraisal, they stay where they are, waiting for their current firm to promote them or give them a pay rise.

If you don't know for sure what you want from work or how to get it with any certainty, it is easy to cling to the security blanket of what you know.   

Then there's person B. They are ambitious and has clear goals set in their mind, so when they are presented with the same opportunity, they see it as a chance to help them meet their career goals faster. Because they're continually asking themselves, “how can I reach my goal in the best way possible?”, they decided to explore the opportunity to see if it aligns with their goals, or simply be more vocal about what they want for their future.

3. You'll instantly feel more positive and in control of your career

Having a goal provides a purpose, direction, and motivation, and most goals are put in place to help you to better yourself. Working without clear career goals and expecting 10/10 career satisfaction is a bit like going into a supermarket without a shopping list and expecting to come out with a nutritious seven-day meal plan. 

Remember, “your achievement is only limited by your ambition”. By not having goals, you have already hindered your achievement.  

Goals: easy to set, hard to achieve, essential to succeed.

You could receive further insights like this, along with helpful podcasts, interviews and skills courses to help you progress at work, in our Career Accelerator, delivered directly to your inbox. Register here

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