Career Checklists

How to Set Effective Career Goals

What do you want to get out of your career? The answer usually isn’t just “an income.” We all have dreams of what we’d like to accomplish in our careers.

Some people imagine being at the head of a nonprofit organization, leading the rest of the team to success. Others just want a job where they feel like they’re making a difference.

One of the best ways to make your dreams a reality is to make career checklists that help you set effective goals.

Setting realistic career goals is how you visualize your target and come up with a solution to help you reach out. While there’s no guarantee that your plan will always go off without a hitch, a goal will at least keep you pointed in the right direction.

The key to successfully setting goals is ensuring that they’re clear, realistic, and achievable.

Consider these top tips for establishing successful targets. And let the career checklists on the right help you achieve your goals.

Start With Clarity

First, exactly what do you want to achieve?

It’s not enough to just say “I want to be the boss.” Do you want to be the CEO of a nonprofit, the manager of your own team, or the head of your entire organization? Get to the crux of what you really want and be as specific as possible.

Studies show that we’re more likely to succeed in our goals when we make them clear.

If you’re not sure where to begin, ask yourself what your ideal job would allow you to do each day. Think about what kind of tasks you like and hate in your current job.

It might even be a good idea to look up some information on the careers you’ve considered pursuing before. This will help you to see what kind of day-to-day tasks are involved in each position.

Aim High, But Be Realistic

The more ambition you have, the better. However, it would help if you were still somewhat realistic.

For example, if you’re still in your first year, edging into annual giving at a local community college, but your goal is to become the CEO of a major foundation within two years, you’re probably not going to achieve your target.

Setting yourself up to fail with a goal you can’t achieve is another way of ensuring that you never go anywhere.

Unfortunately, this also means that your goal can’t be to just make a lot of money without doing any work. It’s important to take the time to think about the skills you have, the things you enjoy, and the talents you can use to actually make an income.

 For instance, if you love working in your marketing and development communications role now, but you think you could do more, perhaps you could aim to become the director of communications at a local community college and then move up, or even the owner of your own marketing consulting firm within the next five to ten years. Have you considered being self-employed? That’s another topic!

Visualize a Path

Once you have a goal, you can begin to think about what you’re going to need to get there. Chances are that you don’t have all the resources you’d require to get your dream career just yet. Otherwise, you’d probably already be doing it.

So, what are you missing?

If it’s a certain set of skills like learning how to negotiate, maybe you could look into taking part-time courses outside of work that will increase your proficiency in those areas. If it’s just that you need to “know the right people” and learn how to network, maybe you could dedicate more time to building your peer group and socializing with others in your industry.

Ask yourself what’s missing to take yourself from the point where you are today, to the point you want to be at ten years, five years, or even one year from now by building your leadership and management skills. Once again, be clear about the steps you’re going to take.

Be Committed

Ultimately, it’s going to take time and work for you to get the career of your dreams in philanthropy, especially if it’s in major gifts because many have to overcome fear and stay motivated in this industry. Be committed and set goals.

We all hear others saying that they hate their jobs and that they’re going to make a change “one of these days,” but a lot of people never do anything. The reality is that we get stuck in our ways at times, and it’s difficult to take risks and push ourselves to embrace the challenge of something new.

Decide here and now whether you’re committed to making your dream a reality!

If you are, then force yourself to proactively take steps towards your desired outcome as often as possible. Even if it’s just dedicating an hour a week to networking with professionals in your field or looking for a mentor who can guide you through your career progression, start somewhere.

Your road to success could be long, or your goal could be just around the corner.

Either way, you’re going to need to start that journey by taking the first step. Again, begin with the checklists on the right.

Make your choice, buckle down, and go!

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If you’re currently embarking on an executive level job-seeking journey, it’s wise to use every possible avenue to obtain your next position. Taking advantage of a wide range of new strategies to land your dream job can enrich your possibilities. About 20 pages, 8 chapters. Download our eBook Finding a Job today.