Setting Healthy Career Goals And Working Toward Them
It can be normal to want to be happy and prosperous in your career. Setting specific and realistic career goals can be a necessary part of seeing change and progress in life, and there are steps you can take to develop and follow through on goals like these. To get started, it can be helpful to know what healthy goals might look like, how to discover your goals, and how to seek additional resources and support if needed.
What Are Healthy Career Goals?
Healthy career goals can be those that aim to help you accomplish goals and find fulfillment in your career, whether now or in the future. How achievable and realistic they are separates healthy goals from unhealthy ones. Specific, detailed goals that include an action plan may have the best chance of success without causing unnecessary stress.
In addition, it can be essential to set professional goals that allow you to continue reaching your personal goals. For example, try to outline career goals that don't hinder maintaining a work-life balance. When you prioritize work over relationships, mental health, and other parts of personhood, you might be setting yourself up for chronic stress or burnout.
How To Set Healthy Career Goals
When you were finishing school or got the job you're in now, what was your future plan? What did you want to accomplish? Considering questions like these may be a positive starting point when developing your career goals. Think about where you are now and where you would like to be in five, ten, or 20 years. Are you on a path that will help you get there? If not, outline what you want or need to change to get there.
What Types Of Goals Are Healthy To Set?
Start with the basics when you're planning and setting your goals. Look at where you are now and where you would like to be. As you consider which steps to take, it may be helpful to separate your ideas into different categories, such as:
- Short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals
- Professional and personal goals
- Big-picture goals and small-picture goals
With some ideas of what you'd like to see now and in the future, you can think about other goals to connect your ideas. For example, if your most significant career goal is to become a department manager, you might realize that you first need to return to school to get a degree.
Try your best to think of any obstacles or challenges you might face preemptively and factor them into your plan. It might be easy to be highly optimistic when you make goals, but keeping them realistic and meeting yourself where you're at can be more productive.
How To Work Toward Your Career Goals
Once you've listed your goals, list out the steps it might take to succeed in each. Keep your ideas minor, specific, and manageable for the best results. Try not to overwhelm yourself with too many details.
For example, if you're an aspiring manager who first needs to return to school, it might help to list the following steps:
- Researching different schools
- Applying for scholarships
- Completing applications by their due date
- Reaching out to the business management advisor at the school you choose
In addition, consider that your goals and plans may change over time. Maybe your goal was to be president of the company that you currently work for. However, you may decide to work for a different company after a few years.
Changing your goals is allowed and may be highly motivating. Every six months to a year, ensuring your written goals align with your life path can be beneficial. That way, you can make the necessary changes and keep pushing forward.
Career Counseling Options
The process of brainstorming, creating, and following through on career goals can be challenging. In some cases, people may not be prepared to find answers to these questions independently. In these cases, the support and guidance of a mental health professional can make navigating complicated steps easier.
If you face barriers to in-person career counseling, you can connect with a career counselor online through a platform like BetterHelp. When you connect with a professional through the web, you can connect with someone from home and choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions. In addition, your therapist can send you online resources to look through at home.
Research supports online therapy's ability to help individuals through periods of high stress, including young adulthood. One study showed that online therapy could effectively reduce "psychological distress" among university students, suggesting that internet-based modalities may benefit those beginning to discover career and personal goals.
How do you set good career goals?
You can set career goals by using various methods. For example, you can begin by using the principles of SMART goals. With this strategy, you’re setting clear career goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. As a result, you can define goals that are actionable and trackable. For instance, if you're aiming for a promotion, identify the skills and experiences you want to achieve this goal.
What are examples of career goals?
Examples of career goals might include obtaining a master's degree in your field, aiming for a specific job title or position within a certain timeframe, or learning a particular skill set relevant to your career. Another great example could be expanding your professional network to include influential individuals in your industry.
How do you plan to achieve your goals?
You can achieve your goals by breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps. If your goal is to earn a master's degree, start by researching programs, then complete and submit applications. You might learn new skills by completing courses or training programs. You may want to keep your plan flexible for unseen changes and ensure your goals remain attainable.
How do you build a strong career?
Building a strong career involves setting clear career goals and actively working towards them. Have a basic foundation of the skills necessary in your field and look for opportunities for professional growth. You can find opportunities through networking and staying informed about industry trends.
Which is more important: personal goals or work goals?
Both personal and work goals are important and should be balanced. Personal goals can contribute to your overall happiness and satisfaction, while work goals can advance your professional life. You can strive for goals in both areas, as they often support and complement each other.
What kind of support do you need to achieve your goals?
In many cases, you may need support from mentors, educators, or colleagues to achieve your goals. Advisors and professors can be invaluable, especially for academic goals like a master's degree. In a workplace environment, you might ask for guidance from experienced colleagues or supervisors. In addition, personal support from friends and family can be motivating and encouraging.
How do you achieve your goals as a student?
As a student, you can achieve your goals by setting specific, measurable goals, such as studying for a certain amount of time per day and obtaining specific test scores. Organize your study schedule, request help when needed, and track your academic progress. You may also want to balance your academic work with extracurricular activities to be a more well-rounded student.
Why is it important to start career planning early?
Early career planning allows you to set clear career goals and begin working toward them gradually. By planning career goals early, you can find out what skills and qualifications you need to get to where you want to go. You might be able to find early opportunities for internships and networking, which can help support the path to a successful career.
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