Almost every one of us probably remembers the first career aspiration that he or she immortalized in the friendship book of his classmates. Engine driver, policewoman, teacher, actress – very few are likely to have actually put this first professional goal into practice. But even if your dream job didn’t work out – we still define professional goals. And they are important when it comes to building a career.
But defining and ultimately achieving these goals is not only relevant for professional advancement. If we make plans, this motivates us, it gives us new momentum and lets us become more creative and productive. The prerequisite for this, however, is that we do not plan in the dark without any prospect of success, but that our goals are actually achievable.
In contrast to the career aspirations from childhood, a better thought-out and planned approach is required. And very important: put your professional goals in writing!
These factors determine your success
So that you can clearly define your professional goals – and ultimately achieve them, it is necessary that you first deal with your own ideas, preferences, and other circumstances:
- Can you meet your goals? If you are aiming for a leading position in an international company, you usually need excellent foreign language skills. If you want to make a career in sales, you should be good at dealing with people. So ask yourself whether you actually bring with you what a certain goal requires, whether you meet the requirements that it needs or whether you can possibly refresh your knowledge and skills in further training.
- Your current life situation and the topic of flexibility: Are you going to be a mother or a father soon? Your own parents require care or you have other private obligations that restrict your flexibility? Think about whether your current life situation and the goals you have set can be reconciled or what you can perhaps change so that private and professional interests do not conflict with one another.
- The situation on the job market: For you to be able to achieve your goals, not only the inner factors have to be right. The external conditions must also be appropriate. It will not do you any good if you define an ambitious goal, but this is unattainable against the background of current or future changes in the labor market.
In addition to this critical examination of internal and external factors, the type of formulation also plays an important role. When you think of the good resolutions that countless people dig out of the drawer every year on New Year’s Eve, it becomes clear that even small goals are not that easy to achieve. “I absolutely have to lose five kilos”, “I have to do more sport”, “I have to spend more time with my family.” – First delete the word “must” from your professional goals. Because it subconsciously puts you under enormous pressure. Besides: Everything we have to do is somehow already negatively affected. Use instead: “I will”. In this way, you suggest to yourself that you will achieve the ideal state you want in the future.
Don’t set your goals too ambitiously
Another mistake that many people make in defining their goals and which ultimately prevents them from reaching those goals is over-ambitious or over-ambitious plans. Therefore, also include partial successes in the definition of your professional goals and do not take on too much at once. For example, you can work with To-Do lists, on which each point is already a small goal. If you can tick the box behind the individual items, this has a motivating effect and also strengthens you to achieve larger goals. Because every recorded success makes you a little more self-confident and strengthens your belief in yourself.
If you now want to concentrate on achieving larger goals, come up with a precise battle plan. Ask yourself what you need to get to your goal. Also, plan for milestones. With every small success you get a little closer to the big picture and create your own structures to approach the overall goal step by step, but still unstoppably. After each stage goal, pause briefly and conduct a brief maneuver review: What was particularly difficult? What could be improved? And should you possibly change anything in your approach? But self-praise is also appropriate. Make yourself aware of what was particularly good and realize that you have come closer to your great goal.
Another tip: create a schedule that you can use as a guide and that prevents you from putting everything on the back burner. However, do not calculate too tightly and also consider possible setbacks. After all, unpredictable events can get in the way of achieving your goals.