As we are now officially in 2018, this is a great time to sit down and plan your career goals and targets for the year ahead. Doing this at the beginning of the year gives you a fresh start, enabling you to reset your objectives and create a structured plan to ensure that you are achieving everything you want to. Having goals written down to refer back to is a great way of tracking your progression and thinking about where your future can take you!
Before you start here are a few tips to keep in mind when setting your goals:
- Dream big… but not too big! It is great to have ambition and everybody is capable of achieving anything they put their mind to, but remember that these goals need to be realistic. If you have a big dream, make sure you can write a step by step plan of how to achieve it.
- Be specific. When setting your goals ensure that you go into detail. Whether your goal is big or small, being specific will help you to know exactly what you need to achieve, making it easier for you to stay focused and on track.
- Be positive! When writing out your goals make sure they are positive. If your goals are negative then you are more likely to not achieve them.
- Set a timeframe. Start by categorising them into short, medium or long term goals. This will help you to construct a measurable plan so you know exactly which goals to prioritise first.
Before setting any career goals you need to evaluate what stage you are currently at. Think about what you have already achieved, the skills you currently have and consider how positive your thoughts are at this current time. Start by writing down three things you are proud to have achieved in the past 5 years (E.g. Maths Level 2 Qualification). After doing this write down 5 skills that you have developed that will be valuable to you when securing employment in the future (E.g. Punctuality or Communication Skills). Finally, write down three honest feelings that you have regarding your current career situation. (E.g. I feel proud of my achievements so far and I feel confident to continue with my success). By completing this stage you will be able to position yourself and reflect on where you started have from.
The next step in this process is to think about your long term goal(s). If you are unsure of a career you would like to pursue, think about your strengths and abilities and match them to a role you would like to see yourself working in the next 5 Years. A useful resource for this is the National Careers Service: Job Profiles (https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/job-profiles/home). This website allows you to search through all possible career options, giving you information on things such as the daily duties, the skills required to complete the job and the career path and progression options available. A key part of this research is to see if that career choice would suit you and your needs as well as your abilities. For example, if you wanted to progress into an Administration role but preferred to work outdoors, then this role may not suit you as the main working environment would be in an office. One way of doing this effectively would be to write out a checklist of everything you would want from your career choice and then mark these against the results from the National Careers Service: Job Profiles.
If you are still struggling, you can also complete a Skills Health Check on the National Careers Service website (https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/skills-health-check/home), this will take you through a series of quizzes and activities to explore your skills, interests and motivations. By doing this you will be aware of your qualities and interests to match against the Job Profiles on the National Careers Service website.
After selecting your preferred career choice you will be able to think about your long term goal. Remember, a long term goal is something that is going to take 12 months or more to achieve. Think about a specific job role or career field to work in and write this down as your long term goal. For example, “In 18 months, I would like to be working in a full-time role as a Project Manager.” or “In 12 months, I would like to secure employment in the Automotive industry.”
Now that you have a long term goal in mind, you need to start thinking about how you are going to achieve it. A great method for this is to a write a basic step-by-step plan. Start by researching your career choice and the entry requirements, skills or experience needed to go into this role or industry. This information will give you an idea of the small achievements you need to complete to reach your long term goal. An example of this would be if your career choice requires at least 1 year of experience in that role or industry.
After researching all of the requirements needed to achieve your goal, begin to write a timeline of steps you need to achieve. The start of your timeline should be the stage you are at now in you career (E.g. School Leaver) and at the end of your timeline should be your long term goal (E.g. Administration Assistant). In between these two points, write out the step-by-step points in time order, these should include milestones such as “Complete at least 6 months of work experience in an office” or “Complete an Apprenticeship in Business Administration”.
The final stage of goal setting is to turn the step-by-step timeline into specific goals with a timeframe. Start by thinking about specific objectives, to do this look at each individual step on your timeline and begin to research on exactly how you are going to complete this step. If you need to achieve a qualification, research the places in your local area that offer this qualification. Alternatively, if one of your steps is to gain Work Experience, research local companies that you could contact.
You then need to split these steps into short term and long term categories. Your short term goals should be the steps that take a short period of time to achieve, this could be something like ‘Enroll at a local college’ or ‘Ring local companies for a work experience placement’. Your medium term goals are the steps that take a longer period of time to achieve such as ‘Complete an Apprenticeship in Business Administration’ or ‘Complete a 6 month Work Experience placement’.
You then need to add a timeframe onto these goals as a reference to whether you are on track or not. Think about a realistic timeframe, and write out a specific date you would want to achieve it by. Timeframes are going to make you more proactive and considerate towards what goals you should begin to work towards first.
Good luck for 2018!
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