4 Strategies for Setting Successful Career Goals

career goals

The New Year is the perfect time to reflect upon our careers and identify resolutions to make improvements or significant life changes. While it is healthy to identify these goals for ourselves and strive for improvement, unfortunately many people don’t succeed. Reasons for failure could be that the resolutions or goals are ambiguous, the timeframes for achieving the goals are not practical, or keeping track of success along the way to achieving the goal is hard to measure. 

When setting your career goals, avoid the same traps by selecting goals which are well-defined, have realistic timeframes and have measurable action steps. The following strategies will help you set your own career goals:

Strategy 1: Choose a career goal based on your passion. Within the nursing industry, there are several different career paths for you to pursue, from working in a trauma care unit at a hospital to a nurse at school. Research the various positions and select the one(s) which match your passion.

Strategy 2:  Set your goal, make sure it is a SMART goal and put it into writing.  Literally write down your goal. This helps you visualize the goal and once it is in writing, it becomes more permanent. Also evaluate your goal to ensure it is SMART. SMART is an acronym for five characteristics of successful goals:

  • Specific – the goal should be very clear and tell you exactly what is trying to be accomplished
  • Measurable – the goal will have milestones to show progress in the completion of the goal and also when the goal is achieved
  • Attainable – the goal pushes you to new areas but is not out of the realm of possibility
  • Relevant – the goal should be applicable to where you are currently and be realistic
  • Time-Bound – the goal will have dates applied to the milestones and final achievement to track success

Example Goal: Get a job as a nurse.

SMART Goal: My goal is to become a full-time staff nurse in the emergency department at Community Hospital by June 2014.

Strategy 3:  Include Others – Family, Friends, Classmates, Career Advisor and Faculty.  Sharing your goal with others gives you a support group, and generates positive synergy towards your goal.  A college career advisor can also provide other resources towards reaching your goal.

Strategy 4 – Reward yourself – at all of the milestones along the way. After each milestone is met, congratulate yourself on your accomplishment. Staying positive and focused on the steps along the way will help your motivation and momentum towards reaching your goal.

Begin now to set your career goals and then continue to work towards achieving them. Remember, you can stop along the way to evaluate your goal and determine if other resources, information or support is needed to reach your goal. By taking this time to strategize your career goals, you can build confidence in yourself and help plan for your future.

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