set goals and make decisions
Define your career objectives, educational goals and personal goals.
Go to CareerTRAX Setting Goals now.Take some time to visualize what you want your life to look like. In the best of all worlds, where would you be living? Who would you be living with? What would your relationships be? What would you be doing in work and in leisure? What kind of lifestyle would you want?
Next use this vision of an ideal life to help create a vision of an ideal job. What kind of work would you be doing? What kind of company would you want to be a part of?
- What is most important to you? Possible answers include time for family and friends, peace and serenity, excitement or challenge, personal growth or learning, or planning for a future event like retirement, buying a home or starting a family.
- What do you like about your current job? If the answers to this question don’t include any of your answers to the question above, it could be a sign of a disconnect between what you really care about and your job. At the very least, your job should do one of two things: It should provide some of what makes life good (i.e., growth, excitement, challenge) or provide the means of making life good (i.e., time for family, secure income, friendships and social activities).
- Who do you work with every day? Do you like your boss/customers/coworkers? This is a vital and often overlooked issue in career planning, especially if you’re considering a change. Some jobs sound terrific until you consider that you may be selling to or working with people who don’t share your values or see things your way. After you consider the answers to the questions above, do an assessment of your current position. What does it provide or nourish in your life? What does it lack? Can the things you don’t like be changed through your efforts? Maybe it’s simply a matter of asking for more of some kinds of responsibilities and duties, and fewer of others.
Take time to review the goals you set for your career and personal life. Write down the most important one, and then determine action steps you will take to achieve these goals. Some action steps will be short term – there are things you can do today or tomorrow to advance. Some will require more time or resources to achieve – these will be your mid and long-term goals. The addition of action steps differentiates goals from mere daydreams, and helps you track progress as you work to achieve your vision of an ideal life or career.
Set "SMART" Goals
Developing goals requires conscious projection into the future in order to bring clarity to the direction you should take now. Use the "SMART" acronym to help you through the goal-setting process.
- Specific – detailed, particular or focused. A goal is specific when you know exactly what is to be achieved and accomplished. A simple goal is easier to understand. Imagine your goal as specifically as you can. Ask: Who, where, what, when, how...specifically?
- Measurable – quantifiable. Think of the evidence that will let you know you have achieved it. For example, words like "better" or "faster" are not quantifiable. "Increase my course grades by 10%" provides a clear measure for a goal.
- Achievable – self-maintained. The achievement of the goal is up to you alone. There are many aspects of life that involve dependent relations with others. Your goal should clearly speak to things that you have control over.
- Realistic – practical and possible. Realistic goals are a balance between what is hard and what is easy to achieve. They require a "stretch." It’s that little bit extra in performance that makes people progress and improve. Is your goal realistic and reasonable?
- Timely – scheduled. There is a finite duration to your effort, a deadline. People can put off doing things if no deadline is set because human nature usually finds something else to do on the way. For example, "by the end of June" is more specific than "toward the end of June." However, the most precise statement is “June 30, 2010.”