Career goals are carefully planned objectives to attain career success, not just a general description of what you wish to accomplish. Career goals could include setting career goals, achieving financial targets, or maintaining career happiness while still at the same time satisfying personal goals in life. The importance of career goals can never be stressed enough. This is because without having clearly defined goals and objectives in place, it will be extremely difficult to achieve the latter. Without the right objectives and plans in place, any attempts made towards career success would be hit and miss at best.

Many people make the mistake of setting career goals that are too long and vague. In doing so, such goals tend to remain unfulfilled, and this leads to a sense of dissatisfaction with life overall. What’s more, such goals do not serve as catalysts to get one to take certain actions in order to achieve them. Thus, their very existence becomes a hindrance to success in achieving those very objectives.

To remedy the aforementioned problem, consider having a short-term and a long-term perspective on your career goals. In other words, your short-term goals would relate to things that are relevant to your current job role and the immediate future. They may include how much further you plan to reach in your current position, the salary you anticipate earning, your advancement opportunities, your company’s reputation, your career development, etc. These are matters that should be tackled in the short-term.

On the other hand, your long-term career goals statement should deal with your long-term plans for work fulfillment. For example, how much further will you go in your current position before your next promotion? Will you continue to work toward achieving a master’s degree, a Ph.D., or a similar distinction in order to move up to a supervisory or management level? Will you settle down into your current job or pursue another one?

One great way to keep your motivation and focus while pursuing your professional development goals is to set up a to-do list. To-do lists can be as simple as a sheet of paper with a few tasks listed on each page. You may wish to designate a specific date each week to tackle the items on your list. In addition, you may want to assign points for success each day so that when it comes time to gauge your progress, you will feel like you have accomplished something. By breaking down your personal to-do list into weekly or monthly goals, you will feel less overwhelmed and more determined to succeed.

A much more practical method for tracking your professional development goals is to consult an objective lens, which is much like a crystal ball where you can look into your future. Instead of writing down your current job, use objective lenses to track your career goals and progress. For example, if you wish to obtain a promotion at your current job, look at your recent evaluations. If your boss praises you for being a valuable employee and for taking the initiative to learn new things, see how your evaluations are faring against this. Once you have determined whether you have progressed toward your career goals or have regressed, set a plan in motion to reverse the course that you are on. Your objective lens will show you where you are now and what needs to be done in order to get yourself back on track.

It is important to set short-term and long-term goals. Many people make the mistake of focusing only on their long-term career goals. While it is imperative that you achieve long-term goals, there are also many instances when a short-term goal is more achievable. For instance, if you are currently working as a cashier and want a promotion, set your sights on getting that promotion by the end of this summer. While it may seem unrealistic to set goals that will require you to work into next summer, however, setting shorter term goals can still help you achieve the results that you are hoping for. Short-term goals will help you feel as though you are on the right track, while your long-term goals will help you see your career move forward in a more significant way.

Once you know what you need to accomplish within a particular period of time, set realistic expectations. Do not think that your short-term and long-term career goals will automatically become reality; think instead that they are possible but not impossible. If you have unrealistic expectations, it is likely that you will remain stuck in your current job and suffer from low self-esteem. In order to get your career goals moving, set realistic goals that are achievable within one’s current job as well as long-term plans.