Setting Career Development Goal and Objective is Like when You Pick Your Destination...

...Select it carefully and you will end up at the right place!

Setting career development goal and objective?

Here are three questions to ask yourself for a good start:

  • What type of change are you considering?

  • How big is the change?

  • Are your change objectives SMART?

Let us take a look at each of them below...

What type of change are you considering?

There are several types of career changes that are possible. Identifying the type of change accurately as you are setting career development goal and objective will help you select the correct strategy for implementing the change.

  • Are you considering further development in your current job?
  • Moving to a new job in the same field?
  • Or, a career change into a new profession?

Each type of change is different to the other one. Each of them requires a slightly different strategy.

Answering these questions as you are setting career development goal and objective will help you to:

  • clearly identify your objectives
  • identify the type of change
  • select the correct strategy suited to the type of change
  • understand the magnitude of the change
  • plan your career change more effectively

How big is the change?

Even though you will be spending more time on this later on when you undertake the gap analysis having a rough idea of the size of the career change during your career goal setting process will help you prepare better for the change.

Is the change you are contemplating a small change? - e.g. further developing your skills in your present job. Or is it a very big change? - e.g. a complete change of profession.

If the change is small then you may only need a few hours of work putting together your career development plan. If the change is big then you will need to spend more time on your plan and also ensure your plan is robust - e.g. you have a fall-back position if something does not work out.

When I went through a big change by moving from Engineering to Human Resources, I made sure I could always come back to Engineering if things did not work out, even though in my heart I knew that was not what I would like to do.

Are your change objectives SMART?

You may have heard of this before. SMART stands for:

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time bound

SMART is often used during goal and objective setting. You too can use it while settingcareer development goal and objective. It will help you develop better quality goals.

As you think about where you want to be apply the SMART criteria. See if it meets them. Ifnot, take a look at it and see what changes you need to make so your objective is SMART.Doing this will help you focus. Use your common sense too. Sometimes not all five criteriacan be strictly met.

Here are some suggestions to consider while setting career development goal and objective:

  • Specific - try and focus on what exactly you want to achieve. Breaking down a biggeror more general career goal into smaller chunks will help you narrow it down. E.g. - youmay want to become better in your current job. This is quite general. You can be morespecific by asking yourself in what areas of your current job you want to become better at.If you are a finance person for example then a specific goal may be that you want to becomebetter at handling more complex budget analysis tasks by yourself.
  • Measurable - ensure there are ways you can measure progress. If you cannot measureprogress then it will be difficult to know if you are on track. Think of indicators tolook out for that will help you track progress. Building on the above example,the ability for you to accomplish increasingly complex budget analysis tasks with lessguidance from your manager is one way to measure your increasing competence and progress.
  • Achievable - sometimes while setting career development goal and objective you maywonder if at all they are achievable. If this happens do not stop the activity. A certainamount of optimism is necessary while you think about where you want to be. If the goallooks too difficult then break it down into achievable chunks. This is also tied to the nextpoint - realistic.
  • Realistic - is what you want to achieve realistic? If the goal is too big orunrealistic then you may be wasting your time and not being true to yourself. Realism canbe considered in several different contexts. Your context will be unique to you. Oneexample could be the time you have available to commit to the change. E.g. - if you arethinking of changing professions but have very little time available to commit to the changethen you are being unrealistic. Realism is also tied to the next point - time bound.
  • Time bound - while setting career development goal and objective have you establishedwhen you will achieve them? If not, then think about assigning a target date for completionof each goal or objective. If you are having difficulty try breaking down your goal intosmaller chunks and then assigning a target completion date to each of them. This will helpyou keep things on track.

If you are like me then you could also convert your SMART goals into simple goals and have them in front of you every day.

Finally, as you go through this exercise remember to use both your left and your right brain - i.e. - use logic but do not be limited by its possibilities.

Dream and visualize your end result. Do not limit yourself.

If you are going through a low then make sure you get motivated before you do this exercise.

I know many people who have achieved amazing results in their career that others did not think could be possible!

Remember it is your career. Why not apply some of the tools and techniques recommended here while you are setting career development goal and objective. It will pay itself off many times over in the long run.

Good luck!

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