A successful career is built on carefully thought out goals and aspirations. To understand what career goals are we need to first understand what a goal is. The Cambridge English dictionary defines a goal as an aim or purpose. It is something that you hope to achieve in the future.
Mona Kwehangana, the CEO of Market Tales LTD, however, observes that it is easy to confuse a career dream for a goal.
“Goals must be achievable and, therefore, have to be set realistically while dreams can be as grandiose and as lofty as can be. They do not necessarily have to be achieved,” Kwehangana explains.
Types of goals
There are two types of career goals; the long-term which aim at the ultimate career position over time and the short-term goals that focus on the individual elements needed to accomplish the overall career goal.
Nelisiwe Matte, a corporate psychologist, likens embarking on a career to a marriage.
“Your potential partner may possess all the qualities and values you view to be suitable for a successful marriage but like most people, different characters unfold as you spend more time with them. The same concept applies to embarking on your career journey. You never know where you career will take you and unfortunately or fortunately different challenges will unfold along the way.
Your first job could be your dream job or it could make you think twice about your chosen field. No matter what happens, to have a successful career you will need to set both the short and long-term goals in order to set your career on the right path,” Matte explains.
Know your strengths
Kwehangana recommends doing a personal SWOT analysis before setting career goals. “This will help you discover what you are good at, what you are passionate about, the resources at your disposal bringing things such as your environment, financial status, physical ability and psychological capacity,” she adds. These will help you set goals that will always guide you in the right direction.
Charity Kabasambu, a human resource practitioner, says one of the most rewarding goals is finding your true calling and working to achieve excellence in it.
“These days people are very money-motivated, most young people are choosing jobs basing on the salary,” Kabasambu notes.
Echoing Kabasambu, Lillian Busingye, a retired accountant, advises that during the early stages of your career; focus on finding what industry best suits your ambitions.
“Explore different career paths and pursue your ambitions now when you are still starting out because it will be more difficult to change industries later on when you have a family to support and need a steady income,” Busingye urges.
Another worthwhile goal according to Busingye is acquiring as many skills as possible. “These days employers want employees with multiple skills. Once you start your career, focus on developing skills that will make you more marketable to future employers,” she explains. Get more training, certification programmes or education to excel in your career.
Matte notes that even if you feel as if you are at the top of your game in your field, there is always more you can learn to improve your skills.
“To truly become a leader, in your field, you need to have skills that make you more visible. You could initiate a project at your workplace or establish changes that elevate the state of your field,” Matte advises.
It is common to get consumed by our professional goals and achievements forgetting to plan your personal life. The truth is for one to be truly successful; you must have a balance between your career and personal life.
Personal development goals include improving your communication or leadership skills and developing conflict management and strategic contribution skills at work. They also include your personal lives such as family and relationships.
“So, while you’re setting your professional goals also plan for where you want to be in your personal life within a given time span. One of the ways you can align your career with your personal life is separating your income in different accounts for specific purposes. For instance start planning for your wedding by starting a fund. This will save you the hustle of fundraising when time comes and will remove the excuses that keep you single beyond when it stops making sense,” Lillian Busingye, a retired accountant, advises.