You may not have a lot of experience with setting professional goals. Maybe you’ve got a rough idea of what your future career will look like, but you’re not quite sure how to change this emerging vision into a concrete road map.

As befuddled as you may feel, you’re not alone.

Your plan should include both short and long-term goals, as well as the necessary steps to clear each one. In fact, your short-term goals must be achieved before your long-term aspirations can become reality. Here are some steps to help get you started:


SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound – and all these qualities should apply to your goal-setting strategy.

  • Have specific results in mind. For instance don’t just list your goal as “I want to be successful.” It should sound more like “I want to complete my MBA by 2021” or “I want to earn my CPA within the next 18 months.” Unless you deep dive into the details, you’ll continue to tread water, most likely staying safe, but never making any real progress.
  • Make sure your goals are compatible with your current and future capabilities. This is what realism looks like. Measure your progress within pre-set timeframes.

Be honest.

Be sure you’re truly passionate about achieving the goals you set. It’s better to achieve just one goal that truly inspires you than to set 10 that may look good to other people, but just don’t feel right for you. Listen to your heart and your gut, as well as your head.

Be positive.

Make your goals things that you want, rather than things you want to avoid.

  • Take the high road. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to work as an entry-level bookkeeper for the next five years,” set your sights on something like “finding a growth-oriented position at an accounting firm by 2020 and earning my AICPA certification by 2024.”

Be flexible.

Don’t give up if you encounter obstacles to meeting your goals. Instead, modify them accordingly.

  • You may even find you need to let go of certain goals – if they’re no longer meaningful to you. If this happens, reevaluate, self-assess, and put your energy into pursuing a different path.

Be brave.

Don’t be afraid to think big. Many people have a tendency to limit their goals unnecessarily. Within the realms of realism, start by asking yourself, “What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?” Go after what you really want and if you have to, tweak it as you go along.

A career consultant from TRC Professional Solutions can be your goal-setting partner as you find your next great job opportunity, solidify your career plan, and turn it into the results you’re looking for. To find out more about how we can help you, read our related posts or contact us today.




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