Job Success: Setting Goals

Lesson 3: Setting Goals


Setting goals

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to...

  • Recognize why goal setting is important
  • Determine a five-year professional goal statement
  • Develop a five-year professional goal action plan

Setting concrete goals in both your personal and professional lives is a great success strategy. Goal setters visualize what they want to achieve, identify a goal, and plan a series of steps that will make that visualization a reality.

Watch the video below to learn some tips for setting goals.

People who set professional goals exhibit...

  • Improved performance and concentration
  • More achievement
  • Increased pride and satisfaction in achievements
  • Improved self-esteem and overall happiness
  • Less stress and anxiety

Note: While this lesson focuses on setting and achieving professional goals, the steps learned in this lesson can be used to set goals in all areas of your life.

Visualizing your professional future

Take some time to visualize your professional future. Write these ideas down on a sheet of paper, not dismissing any ideas at this point. For now, they don't need to be in any particular order.

Need help?

  • If you haven't already, perform a self-assessment. The process of self-assessment helps you evaluate your values, personality, skills, and interests. For self-assessment information and tools, check out our Career Planning tutorial.
  • Look at some old magazines. Cut out pictures that symbolize your future dreams and ideas. Get a piece of poster board and write "My Future" in the center. Glue the pictures to the poster board, and post your creation where it will inspire you on a daily basis.

Writing a goal statement/action plan

A five-year plan with a briefcase

Many people spend their lives simply reacting to what is going on around them, living a life without goals or purpose. Take the first step toward controlling your future by identifying a goal.

Here, you'll write down a professional goal you'd like to achieve in five years. Studies show that you can increase your chances of achieving your goals by writing them down—but how you write them down has an impact on your success as well.

To write an achievable goal statement, consider the following tips:

  • Your goal should be given a specific timeframe. In this case, think about where you'd like to be professionally in five years.
  • Your goal should be measurable. An example of a goal that is NOT measurable might be, "I want to increase my sales numbers". A measurable goal might state, "In five years, I will increase my sales numbers by 50 percent in the Southeast region".
  • Identify family, friends, mentors, coworkers, and supervisors who can help you achieve your goal. Don't neglect to check out additional resources such as the Internet, libraries, career centers, and your employee handbook.
  • While you shouldn't set a goal too low, make sure it's realistic and appropriate, given your experience, education, and resources.
  • Set a goal based on your personal performance. In other words, avoid setting a goal that could be greatly influenced by factors beyond your control. You may be setting yourself up for failure.
  • Material wealth shouldn't be your only incentive. Wealth may be a motivating factor in the short-term, but basing all your goals on such things will leave you feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
  • Make sure this is something you want to do, not because others think you should do it. Remember, it's your life and your future.
  • Avoid any self-defeating language such as, "I'd like to try to increase my sales, but I doubt if I can do it". A positive attitude is essential in turning your daydream into reality.

Writing a five-year professional goal action plan

Congratulations! You've already taken the first step toward achieving workplace success by identifying and recording a professional goal. However, achieving one's goals doesn't happen overnight. It takes careful planning, focus, and daily persistence. The next step toward achieving your goal is creating an action plan.

Print out our Writing a Professional Goal Action Plan Worksheet to help you complete this exercise.

Mind Tools: Provides several tools to help you be successful in the workplace, including an article on personal goal setting.