Goal Setting Guidelines
Someone once said, "Knowing where you are going is all you need to get there." Think about your past accomplishments. You most likely succeeded by setting goals, developing "to do" steps, and persisting when faced with challenges. The following guidelines will help you to set effective career goals.
Dare to Dream
You are not reaching for the stars if you answer "Employed" when someone asks you, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Goals are meant to be beyond your reach. If you could do anything to support yourself, what would you enjoy doing?
Strive for Realistic Goals
This is a difficult step. You don't want to sell yourself out by setting goals that are too low, yet you don't want to risk failure by setting goals that are truly beyond your reach. Only you can decide what is realistic for you. Consider past experiences as you make this judgement. For example, if you dislike using computers and have done poorly in math classes, it's not realistic to set a goal to become a computer engineer (regardless of their high starting salaries).
Once you set a goal that is realistic - given your interests, abilities, personality, and values - it's important to challenge any negative mindsets that you might have about the potential of failure. Failure should not be feared. Consider the Japanese proverb: Fall seven times, stand up eight.
Develop Specific & Measurable Goals
So, you want to have "management potential." What does that mean for you? How will you evaluate your progress? Whenever possible, you should quantify a goal with numbers and dates. A more effective goal statement is, "I will develop five managerial skills by my senior year."
Translate Goals into Objectives with Deadlines
Goals are set for the long-term. Objectives are the short-term steps that, once accomplished, will take you closer to reaching your goals. Objectives need to be worded in such a way that it is clear when they have been accomplished. The following sample objectives would be appropriate for the goal, "I want to become a crime scene investigator."
- By October of my sophomore year, I will consult with the Career Center to learn about what education and training is required to enter this field.
- By February of my sophomore year, I will have interviewed at least 3 people working in this field to get advice on what experiences and skills are key to getting hired in this field.
- During the summer prior to my junior year, I will build experience through a volunteer position, part-time job, or internship.
- By October of my junior year, I will have investigated 10 forensic science Master's programs and decided if graduate school is a good next step.
Review Your Progress Regularly
Goals should be viewed as a work in progress. They will evolve as your needs change, when you gather more information, and as the working world presents new opportunities. Some good questions to consider when reviewing your goals and objectives are:
- Which ones have you ignored? (Now is the time to be honest - do you really value the goal or is it just a paper dream?)
- Are any goals or objectives incompatible with one another?
- What obstacles are getting in the way? How can you overcome those obstacles?
- Are you trying to accomplish too much?
- Can you make better use of support systems (family, friends, Wittenberg faculty and staff)?
Follow the general rule of thumb: it's okay to give up on a goal if it's lost meaning for you, not because it's too tough or you've had a setback.
Create a Written Record
It is essential to write out your goals and objectives. Aside from making the review process easier, this simple step will help in maintaining your commitment. When you feel discouraged, it's too easy to devalue goals that aren't written down. For example, if your goal is to become a freelance writer, you might be tempted to give up on this dream if one of your articles isn't accepted for publication. But, if you took the time to write out this goal and posted it in a visible location, where you are reminded of it daily, then chances are you'll continue to embrace it. Completing the goal-setting worksheet is a great first step for making your career dreams come true!