Yesterday I talked about creating a career plan with short, medium and long-term objectives. Today, I’m going to talk about setting goals. You might be wondering what the difference is between an objective and a goal. The terms can be used interchangeably. For my purposes, though, I prefer to think of goals as the concrete tasks I need to perform to attain the career I desire (my objectives). I find keeping the two terms separate and specific makes the process less confusing.
How, and whether, you achieve your career objectives depends on the goals you set. Creating realistic goals can make the difference between having your dream writing career and floundering around wondering why the things you want are always out of reach. So, how do you know if you’ve set the right goals?
Setting Worthwhile Goals
- Your Goals are Relevant
The goals you set are the tasks that will help you achieve the short-term objectives you created in your career plan. If a goal isn’t directly related to that end, ask yourself the following:
Is it really necessary? If your answer is yes, perhaps you need to revisit your short-term career objectives.
- Your Goals are Measurable
The only way to know if you’ve completed a goal is if you have something to measure your progress against. Whether it’s a quantity (for example, words written per day) or end product (completed manuscript) or some other measurement, be sure you have some way to measure success.
- Your Goals are Attainable
While you don’t want to set your sights too low, you also don’t want to set them too high. Only you can decide what’s reasonably attainable–these are your goals, not anyone else’s.
- Your Goals Have a Deadline
Open-ended goals aren’t goals; they may be career objectives in disguise. Achievable goals have a specific time frame or deadline associated with them. To hope you think of goals in this way, ask yourself the following questions:
What tasks can I complete in six months?
What tasks can I complete in three months?
What tasks can I complete in one month?
Life is subject to change and so are your goals and career plan. You try to create goals that are achievable and relevant to your career plan, but sometimes you’ll have to adjust your goals to meet your current situation. Revisit your goals on a monthly or quarterly basis, whichever works for you. Remember–these are YOUR GOALS–you’re the only one who can determine if they still make sense or not.
I’ll end the career planning series tomorrow with examples of a career plan and associated goals.