What Are Your Professional Goals?

Achieving Goals, Career Discovery, Career Enrichment, Career Transitions, Life Coaching, Self Awareness
05/20/24 - Ama La Vida

What are your professional goals? It’s a question that can make even the most seasoned professionals pause.

Whether you’re just starting out or well into your career, setting professional goals is crucial. It’s about more than just climbing the corporate ladder.

It’s worth taking the time to figure out your professional goals. This process is the first step to making a career plan which will be vital for your career success and personal happiness.

Professional goals give direction to your career. They help you make informed decisions about job opportunities and skill development.

But how do you set these goals? And once you’ve set them, how do you achieve them?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dig into how to set career goals that are meaningful, and also how to write them so you’re set up for success.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or a mid-career professional, this guide is for you.

Understanding Professional Goals

person typing on computer

Professional goals are objectives you set to guide your career path. They’re milestones you aim to reach in your professional journey.

These goals can be as broad as aspiring to a certain job title, or as specific as mastering a new skill within a set timeframe.

Professional goals are unique to each individual. They’re shaped by your interests, values, and career aspirations.

But regardless of what your goals are, they all serve a common purpose. They provide a roadmap for your career.

Here are some examples of professional goals:

  • Earning a professional certification.
  • Expanding your professional network.
  • Learning a new software or tool.
  • Transitioning to a leadership role.
  • Starting your own business.

When to Set New Career Goals

Sometimes it can be hard to admit that your goals may have changed. It doesn’t make you a quitter, and it won’t get better if you just ride it out.⁣

Here are 6 signs it may be time to revisit your goals:

  1. None of your work projects seem exciting to you.
  2. You daydream about a totally different life.
  3. You feel jealous of your friends, frenemies, or people you see online.
  4. You wake up stressed more nights than not.
  5. Your friends comment about how unhappy you seem.
  6. You’re not sure what’s next for you.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Career Goals

Short-term and long-term career goals serve different purposes. But they’re both essential in your professional development.

Long-term goals are your ultimate career aspirations. They’re what you aim to achieve in the long run, say in five, ten, or even twenty years.

Short-term career goals are objectives you aim to achieve in the near future. This could be within the next few months or a couple of years. These goals are often stepping stones towards your long-term goals.

As you’re considering your short-term career goals, it can be helpful to think about your long-term vision. Then consider what steps you can start now to help you along the path.

Balancing short-term and long-term goals is key. It ensures you’re making progress while keeping your ultimate career objectives in sight.

Still not sure what direction you want to take your career? Here is a great place to start when you don’t know what career you want.

How to Identify Your Professional Goals

Identifying your professional goals is a personal and introspective process. It requires self-reflection and a deep understanding of your career aspirations.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you explore your career goals:

  • What’s your ideal work environment?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What impact do you want to make on the world?
  • How important is work-life balance to you?

Your answers to these questions can provide valuable insights. They can help you identify your unique professional goals.

Once you have an idea of your personal career goals, the next step is to write them down to give you even more clarity and direction. Research shows that people who take the time to write down their goals are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them.

Here’s how to start.

Writing Your Professional Goals Statement

Person writing goals in planner

Not sure how to write career goals? You’re not alone.

A professional goals statement is a powerful tool. It articulates your career objectives and the steps you plan to take to achieve them.

Writing a goals statement requires clarity and precision. You need to clearly define your goals and how you plan to achieve them.

Your goals statement should be specific and measurable. It should outline the steps you plan to take and the timeline for achieving your goals.

It should also be realistic and achievable. Set goals that challenge you, but are within your capabilities.

At Ama La Vida, we take SMART goals even further. We call them EPIC goals. These are goals that are elevating, practical, impactful and clear.

Before you take the time to create SMART job goals, check them against the EPIC framework.

At the end of the day, it’s not just enough for your goals to be achievable, as the SMART framework lays out. They should also be impactful and inspiring to you personally.

Tips for Writing a Compelling Goals Statement

Writing a compelling goals statement can be challenging. Here are some tips to guide you:

First, be specific. Clearly define your goals and the steps you plan to take to achieve them. Avoid vague statements and generalizations.

Second, be concise. Your goals statement should be brief and to the point. Avoid unnecessary jargon and complex language.

Finally, be authentic. Your goals statement should reflect your unique career path and personal values. It should resonate with who you are and what you aspire to be.

Setting Your Career Goals with the SMART Framework

The SMART framework is a popular tool for setting career goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Specific goals are clear and well-defined. When you’re setting goals, make sure each one answers: What do I want to achieve? Why is it important? Who is involved? Where is it located?

Measurable goals can be tracked and assessed. Answer, “How will I know when it is accomplished?”

Achievable goals are realistic and within your capabilities. Ask yourself, “How can I accomplish this goal?”

Relevant goals help you reach your bigger vision of success. Consider, ” How does this short-term career goal get me closer to my long-term goals?”

Finally, time-bound goals have a deadline. Make sure you can answer, “When will I reach this goal?”

Examples of SMART Professional Goals

Let’s look at some examples of SMART professional goals:

  • A software developer might set a goal to “Learn Python programming language to an intermediate level by taking an online course and practicing for 2 hours a day, to be completed in 3 months.”
  • A marketing manager might set a goal to “Increase website traffic by 20% over the next quarter by implementing a new SEO strategy, tracking progress weekly using Google Analytics.”
  • A teacher might set a goal to “Improve student test scores by 10% in the next academic year by implementing a new teaching strategy, assessing progress at the end of each term.”

Remember, your SMART goals should reflect your unique career path and personal values. They should challenge you, but also be achievable and relevant to your professional growth.

Close up of journal with hands holding pen

Strategies for Achieving Your Professional Goals

Reaching your professional goals requires more than just setting them. They won’t do you any good if you don’t follow through with actions.

First, break down your goals into manageable steps. You will need to take the time to figure out what works for you, but choosing the right level of specificity makes career goals less overwhelming and easier to tackle.

For example, if your goal is to get a promotion, identify the skills you need to develop, the projects you need to take on, and the people you need to network with.

Next, create a timeline for each step. This gives you a clear path to follow and helps you stay on track. Remember to be realistic with your timeline. Setting impossible deadlines can lead to stress and burnout.

Finally, regularly review and adjust your goals. This allows you to adapt to changes in your career or personal life, and keeps your goals relevant and achievable.

Prioritizing and Planning Your Goals

Prioritizing your goals is crucial. Not all goals are created equal. Some are more important or urgent than others.

Start by listing all your goals. Then, rank them based on their importance and urgency. This helps you focus on what matters most.

Next, create a plan for each goal. Make sure to include the steps you need to take, the resources you need, and the timeline you aim to follow.

Staying Motivated and Adaptable

Staying motivated can be challenging, especially when progress is slow. To keep your motivation high, celebrate small wins. These are the milestones that bring you closer to your goal.

Also, stay adaptable. Your goals may need to change as your career evolves. Don’t be afraid to adjust or even let go of goals that no longer serve you.

Finally, surround yourself with supportive people. This group could be made up of a career coach, mentors, coworkers who inspire you, or friends who encourage you and hold you accountable.

Tools and Resources for Tracking Your Career Progress

In the digital age, there are tons of tools and resources available to help you track your progress toward your career plans. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Career Empowerment Toolkit

Ama La Vida’s Career Empowerment Toolkit is designed to help you take charge of your career growth. It starts with meaningful exercises to help you define your personal career vision, and then has tools to help you avoid many of the biggest career mistakes we see people make.

You’ll learn how to bring your current job in line with your long-term career goals, how to be proactive on your career path, how to advocate for yourself, and so much more.

How Much Does Coaching Cost, and is it Worth it?

There are so many free options for project management tools these days. Some of our favorites are Notion, Asana, and Todoist. These tools can be so helpful for staying organized and accountable.

Remember, the key is to choose a tool that fits your needs and preferences. Experiment with different options and find what works best for you.

Woman smiling while talking to another woman, taking notes

Career Coaches

Tools, resources and guides are wonderful, but sometimes having an expert work with you to create a personalized plan, hold you accountable, and help you navigate pitfalls along the way is what you really need to be successful.

Ama La Vida has dozens of certified, hand-picked career coaches. Book a free call to learn more about our memberships and get matched with the right career coach for your goals.

Online Learning Platforms

Online learning platforms offer courses and certifications that can help you acquire new skills and knowledge. Talk with your manager or HR department to see if there are any available for employees.

You can also check with your local library. You’d be surprised how many are available with just a free library card!

The Continuous Journey of Professional Growth

two people in office on their laptops

Setting and achieving professional goals is a continuous journey, not a one-time event. It’s about personal growth, learning, and adapting to changes in your career and life. Remember, the ultimate goal is not just to achieve your targets, but to grow and develop as a professional.

Celebrating Milestones and Reassessing Goals

Along the way, it’s important to celebrate your milestones, no matter how small. These moments of success can boost your motivation and confidence. At the same time, don’t forget to reassess your goals regularly. As you evolve, your goals should evolve with you. Keep refining them to stay aligned with your career path and personal aspirations.

What’s next?

Now that you have your professional goals mapped out, the next step is to develop a career plan. Get started here.

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