When we are fresh out of college, almost none of us actually have a clue about what we want from our careers. Unless and until we have had some good and some bad life and work experiences, we do not know what we want to do with our lives professionally as well as personally. However, once we have enough experience in life, we should waste no time and start with career planning immediately.
To be successful in one's career requires some goal setting. You should be very clear on what all expectations you have from your career and job. When we talk about goals, it includes both long-term and short term career goals.
Long-term Goals - Meaning
Let's start by distinguishing between long-term and short term goals. As the name suggests, long-term goals are those which you plan to achieve over a longer period of time, anywhere between three to five years. On the other hand, short term goals are those that can be achieved in a year or so. The following examples will further help in your understanding of the same.
For some people, stability in one's job and profession can be a long-term goal. Such people would stick to the jobs that they are currently holding and give it their best. For a company's growth, professionals who prefer stability in their jobs are the main contributors and hence the most sought after.
Another example of a long-term career goal is to start one's own business. Professionals who prefer flexibility in their jobs are risk-takers and innovators, who want to earn equivalent to the effort that they put in, usually set starting a business as their career goal.
Arriving at These Goals
To arrive at your goals, you should know yourself very well. You should know what your strengths and weaknesses are, what motivates you, what your likes, dislikes, and passions in life are. Along with this, you should know what kind of personality you have - whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Do you prefer individual jobs or you are more comfortable as a team player? Focus on yourself and come up with a list of careers that you think you would want to venture into.
Define what success means to you. Is it financial stability that you are looking for, or learning new things and gaining experience? Knowing your own personal definition of success will further help you to determine your goals. Also, take into consideration your current situation. Be very realistic when setting long-term goals.
In the end, out of the list of careers that you have prepared for yourself, keep on eliminating till you arrive at the final choice. Of course, arrive at it after a lot of thought and deliberation. For those of you who are already in some job, this exercise will help you to re-think about your goals.
Once you know the career path that you want to take, identify the qualifications and skills required to reach your goal. Some of the skills which are mandatory in the corporate world today to be successful in one's career are - communication skills, problem-solving, decision-making, team building, critical thinking, social skills, besides the basic managerial skills such as planning and organizing. So build these skills over the next couple of years for your career development.
Since the corporate world changes so rapidly, be prepared to bring some changes in your goals in the future, if the situation demands. Remember, when setting career goals, always be ready with the time-frame and the action that you are going to take to achieve them. This will ensure that your goals do not just remain on paper.