You MUST Take Time for Career Goal Setting If You Want to Advance Your Career

Career goal setting is one more essential task you must take the time for if you ever hope to advance your career.

But what does that mean? Well, simply put, it means that you have to put some attention to figuring out what you really want from your work life. Where are you going? Do you know?

Or, do you just kind of let your career "happen"...

I know that's how my career progressed for many years. I didn't really seek out career advancement opportunities. I never took the time to really focus on my career goal setting. Some wonderful things happened in my career during those years, but it was luck (and maybe my abilities too), but nothing that I actually did consciously.

Now that I think back on it, I wonder how much more successful I could have been had I paid just a little bit of attention to career goal setting. Could I have advanced my career even more quickly?

The wonderful article on this page by my business associate, Della Menechella, who is an inspiring motivational speaker, addresses the whole idea of career goal setting to advance your career. I hope you enjoy it...

If You Don’t Know What You Want,
Then How Are You Going to Get It?

Make sure you know what you want before you set off on a path in life or in your job hunt.

Recently, I spoke with a client who wanted me to do a workshop at an upcoming conference. I offer a number of different talks, so I asked her what the focus of the meeting was in order to be able to suggest a relevant topic. She said that although the committee members had already picked several programs, they had not yet identified a focus for the conference. My first thought in response to this was, "If you don’t know what you want, then how are you going to get it?" However, I am savvy enough not to insult people, so we spoke a little longer and we came up with a program that she wanted me to present.

It never ceases to amaze me that people do not identify outcomes they wish to achieve. While the above example is related to a conference, it is by no means limited to that area. Many people engage in activities in their careers and businesses, but they haven’t defined what they want to attain. They are completing tasks, but they aren’t focused on accomplishing clear-cut results.

Sidenote: In other words, you HAVE to make career goal setting a priority. It's not a choice... or it shouldn't be... for anyone who really wants to advance your career.

When I was a human resources executive, I often worked with people to determine the appropriate jobs that were needed in their groups. Many department heads would complete job descriptions for key jobs, which described all of the tasks that the employees would be required to do. It took a great deal of effort for me to get these individuals to realize that employees in key positions are not paid to perform tasks, they are paid to produce results. Through much coaching on my part, we were able to identify the outcomes that the individuals were expected to achieve in the various positions.

Sidenote: Sorry to keep interrupting the flow of Della's article, but here's one more though that just popped into my head... :-) You do understand that career goal setting isn't just for people looking for a NEW job, right? You can apply career goal setting to moving ahead in your current career too...

Why is it so critical to know what you want when determining outcomes for a job, a meeting, a department, or any other situation? Because if you don’t know what you want your outcome to be, the odds are that you will spend a lot of unnecessary time and money trying to reach a fuzzy target. And there is a very strong chance that the target will not even be reached.

Sidenote: Della says it better than me, but if you don't set aside some time for career goal setting early on, so that you can figure out what you want from your next job, how the heck are you going to construct a resume that really helps you get where you want to go?

Outcomes let you know where you are going. They give you important information about how to use your resources — time, money, and employees. When you know what you want to accomplish, you can continually make important decisions — is this going to help me reach my goal or will this take me further away from my objective?

Sidenote: Are you finding this article to be helpful in thinking about using career goal setting to advance your career? Have you thought of any reasonable outcomes for your career yet? I sure hope so! Well, go on then, read on...

Clearly defined outcomes can also be very motivating. I worked with a coaching client who had an idea about a new business that she wanted to start. When she first got the idea, she was very excited about it, however, she never took action to get the business moving. She continually came up with excuses about why she wasn’t doing anything to make the business a reality.

I finally got her to sit down and write a detailed description of what the outcome was that she wanted to achieve with the business. That was the missing key. As soon as she took time to know what she wanted and wrote down the detailed outcome, she began to do the things that were necessary to get the business started.

For her, defining the outcome spurred the action that is required in any business. Five years later, she has a very successful business that she absolutely loves.

Some people have a great deal of difficulty in trying to determine outcomes. If it's hard for you to know what you want, it is because you are looking into a future that isn’t certain and you can’t identify the outcomes that you want.

An easy way to get around this is to imagine that the outcome has already been achieved and then to describe what it looks like. In other words, know what you want to outcome to look like.

Going back to the situation with the meeting planner, the question that I asked her was, "Let’s assume it is six months after the conference and you know that it was a huge success. What would have happened to let you know that it was successful?"

People are much more able to describe the past then they are to identify an unknown future. By asking the question this way, I was able to find out that according to the planner, the criterion for a successful meeting was that the attendees would have the tools they needed to be able to more easily and effectively handle the many changes that were going on in their industry. When I discovered this outcome, I was able to suggest a program that would help the organization achieve this desired result.

Before you take action (small or large), you need to know what you want & identify what your outcome is — what do you want to achieve? When you do that, you will cut down your time, streamline your efforts, accelerate your progress, and reach your desired goal. When you know where you are going, there is a good chance that you will end up getting there.

Della Menechella is a speaker and trainer who helps organizations achieve greater success by improving the performance of their people. She is a contributing author to Thriving in the Midst of Change and the author of the videotape, The Twelve Commandments of Goal Setting. She can be reached at 732-985-1919 or Visit for other free articles about how to achieve peak performance.

So, there you have it! All the nuts and bolts of learning how to use career goal setting to advance your career! And, as Della says, goal setting can be applied to every area of your life. So, don't stop with career goal setting. How about relationship goal setting? Personal development goal setting? You get the picture...

Career goal setting should be just one small—though significant—part of making a plan for an intentional life.

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