How to Achieve Your Goals in 6 Steps (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 31, 2022 | Published August 17, 2021

Updated May 31, 2022

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Defining what you want from your career can help you understand what you need to do to feel accomplished. Setting goals and creating a plan on how to achieve them can motivate you in your career while you learn new skills and take risks. Learning how to achieve your goals can help you take the first step toward a new or rewarding career. In this article, we discuss the steps you can take to accomplish your goals, the benefits of setting goals, tips for achieving them and examples of effective career goals.

How to achieve your goals

Goals are specific statements that you create that describe what you wish to pursue. You might set goals in your personal life as well as throughout your career. Career goals can be an industry or company where you want to work, a role to pursue, or a skill to develop.

Here are some basic steps to help you learn how to achieve your goals:

1. Brainstorm motivational goals

Brainstorming means generating as many ideas as possible without judgement. This helps you create more goals than you need to set. You might record goals like getting a job in a different industry, pursuing a managerial role, earning a specific salary, or learning a new skill or technology. With the list, prioritize and refine the ones that are most important to you. Goals that you desire can help motivate you while working to achieve them.

Be sure to relate your career goals to your personal life and priorities as well. For example, if you want to move to another state within a year, be sure your career goal aligns with that objective.

Related: What Does Being a Self-Starter Mean?

2. Make the goals SMART

SMART is an acronym for a set of criteria you can use when setting your goals. It stands for:

  • Specific: Specific goals are narrow and focused on the exact things you want to achieve. For example, a goal to become a communications director is more specific than simply saying you want a leadership role.

  • Measurable: Measurable goals are ones that have metrics you can record as evidence to track and evaluate your success. An example might be to receive recognition from three colleagues or leaders at your organization.

  • Achievable: It's important to be ambitious, but also to set goals you can achieve within a time frame. For example, a goal of a new role at a company within a year is more achievable than aiming to change industries entirely within a year.

  • Relevant: Make sure your short-term goals relate to what you want in life or in a long-term career. For example, if your goal is to learn new skills to become a leader, you might prioritize learning delegation, communication, and problem-solving skills over technical skills.

  • Time-based: Time-based goals mean you have a deadline to achieve them, helping you manage your time. You might set a goal to get promoted within two years.

Setting SMART goals can help you clarify exactly what you want to achieve and by when.

Read more: SMART goals: Objectives for Your Career

3. Write them down

Physically writing something down helps you remember information and understand things more clearly. Writing goals rather than typing them can help reinforce your motivation to achieve them. When writing, mind your phrasing. Setting goals that say you "will" achieve them rather than you "might" achieve them can build your confidence. For example, write "I will complete two learning courses in project management within the year" instead of "I would like to complete a few courses in project management this year."

Consider writing your goals on notepads or index cards and displaying them in places you visit frequently, like on your mirror or near your computer. If you ever need extra motivation on a day, you can read over your goals.

4. Make a plan

Once you have specified your goals, set a definitive plan to achieve them. Start with small steps like actions you can take today that can help you on your way. Plans can vary depending on the career goal. For example, if your goal is to learn new skills, determine what you can read or watch on the subject, how you can practice and apply what you learn, and how you can measure your success. These can all be linear steps within your set time frame.

If you have a longer-term career goal like becoming an executive, determine what steps you need to achieve that objective. This includes what roles you need to hold first, what skills you need, what additional education or degrees you might need to get, and with whom you might need to network.

Related: How To Create an Action Plan To Help You Achieve Your Goals

5. Track progress

It's important to track your progress while pursuing goals to manage your time and keep yourself motivated. Especially with big goals like career changes, continue to review the original goal you set and its time frame. Sometimes, things like education can take longer than expected because of life circumstances. See where you can complete other tasks in shorter time periods to stay on schedule.

Also, it's important to recognize your smaller accomplishments. Each time you achieve one step on your action plan, consider that a smaller but equally important goal you achieved.

6. Persist

Persistence is the most important quality that can help you achieve your goal. Setting goals is a great way to define a purpose in your career development, and it's important to understand that some steps toward achieving that goal may be unpredictable. There are factors that are out of your control, but taking small, actionable steps that build on each other toward your goal can help keep you focused. If you experience setbacks, review your original goals and action plans and see if there are any adjustments you need to make.

Benefits of setting goals

There are several benefits of setting goals:

  • Direction: Setting goals guides you toward setting an action plan and being productive in your career.

  • Performance: Goals help improve your performance by providing you with a clear objective in your career. You learn valuable skills while achieving goals like the ability to prioritize, multitask, and solve problems.

  • Motivation: Goals give you something to strive for in your career. As you complete minor tasks in your action plan, you can feel motivated to achieve more.

  • Sense of accomplishment: Your career goals can make you feel proud and that you're achieving what you want in your life.

  • Time management: You learn how to manage your time when striving to achieve goals by determining how long it may take to complete smaller steps in your action plan.

Related: How To Create a 5-Year Plan

Tips for achieving your goals

Here are some tips you can consider when setting and accomplishing your goals:

  • Celebrate small victories.

  • Define why you want to achieve your goals.

  • Be clear about your success measurements.

  • Define your own goals rather than what you think you should accomplish.

Career goal examples

There are several examples of career goals that you can observe and apply to your own situation. Here are some examples of SMART goals you can set and adjust for your needs:

Task-specific

Below are some task-specific career goals that you can consider within a specific role. These have measurable outcomes, are relevant to a specific role, and have time-based metrics tied to them. Use task-specific career goals if you want to improve your performance in a specific role. Here are a few examples:

  • Increase my sales numbers by 20% above my quota by the end of the quarter.

  • Improve lead response rate by 10% by September.

  • Learn three new marketing strategies this year, apply them to client requests, and increase engagement by 5%.

Career and skill development

Career and skill development goals can help you either advance to new roles within your organization or develop hard and soft skills to help you perform better at work. Start these with words like "learn" or "earn," but be sure to include concrete measurements that can help you track your progress and success. Here are some examples of development goals:

  • Earn a promotion to a senior marketing manager position by 2023.

  • Learn five SEO techniques and produce the top-visited blog in my department within six months.

  • Learn a new project management technique and complete one project within the framework this year on time and under budget.

Career change

Career change goals can help guide you when you're working in one industry and want to switch. When setting these goals, you can divide them into smaller steps within an action plan. Be sure to set career change goals you can achieve while working in your current role. Here are some examples that can help you achieve your goal of a new career:

  • Complete technical writing certification within six months and secure one interview with a software company.

  • Apply to three nursing programs by December.

  • Network with five colleagues in advertising and create three samples for a portfolio this year.

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