How to Establish Career Goals. Guide for Career Changers
Nov 01, 2021
9 min read

Statistics suggest that 91% of millennials expect to change jobs every 3 years and countless news outlets have dubbed the last 18 months (among other things) as the year of “the Great Resignation”. 

Tired of being underpaid, undervalued and under-stimulated, millions of workers from around the world are on the hunt for new opportunities. Fifty years ago, this might not have been possible, but thanks to the power of the internet, switching careers has never been easier.

Today, we’re thinking about career goals, and how career switchers can utilise them to kickstart their new path. It’s said that the simple act of writing down your goals can double your chances of achieving them – and this is increased further when communicated to friends, family, or colleagues. 

How to Brainstorm Fresh Career Goals

Perhaps you have a role or an industry in mind that you’ve always had a curiosity for. Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of starting your own business or becoming a CEO. Forget about “realistic” at this stage – just rack your brain for your hopes and dreams and put them down on paper. 

Once you’ve figured out an endpoint, you can start to sketch out how you might hope to achieve it. If you have a few goals in mind, write down a highly specific description of them at the top of a few pieces of paper, e.g., CEO of a multi-national tech company – and figure out the short-term goals you would need to achieve before you could get there. 

Remember, seeking a career change generally means choosing between three variables: industry, job title and geography. You can keep your job title, but move to a new industry, you can stay in your industry but change your job title, or you can keep both and move to a new city or region. Changing just one of these variables is relatively easy, two might take a few years of work, and all three could take serious dedication. That being said, with the rise of remote work, moving to an entirely new place is easier than ever, and that has repercussions on the other two variables. 

Whether you’re considering changing one of industry, job title, geography, or all three – it’s perfectly possible, and millions do it each year. 

Remember, seeking a career change generally means choosing between three variables: industry, job title and geography.

What if I can’t think of a long-term goal?

Have a brainstorming session 

If you’re struggling to come up with something concrete, you might want to do some critical self-reflection. Write down everything that stimulates you the most in your working life, including those tasks that get you deep in the zone and eager to leap out of bed in the morning. Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of figuring out a particularly difficult business problem or getting to lead a team project. Step back and look objectively at the tasks or responsibilities that you just wrote out. Is there a role or industry that might match these better than your current position?

Conduct a self-assessment  

Alternatively, harness the power of AI, with Gyfted’s smart psychometric tools. Take the Portrat Values Questionnaire test to discover what you most value from your professional life, or the Personality Test to get unique insights into your character and professional needs. 

You may find that you thrive in fast-paced, creative settings or are a natural fit for leadership positions. Using objective tools like these can give you insights you might not notice yourself and set you on the right path for thinking about your long-term goals.

Try out short courses/online learning

Another great way to help you figure out your long-term goals is to take a short-course or taster class in the field you are interested in. Plenty of online bootcamps offer these taster classes, and they’re a great way to help you figure out if it could be a good fit for you. Check out Career Karma to compare thousands of online Bootcamp courses and engage with their free taster resources. 

Alternatively, YouTubeKhan Academy and Udemy are true goldmines for exceptional, free or cheap lessons – allowing you to learn high-level skills without financial or time commitment. 

Time to Break Down Your Career Goals

Now that you’ve got an end point in mind; time to break it down into short, achievable stepping-stone goals. This is the most important way to make your goals happen, since it allows you to create a roadmap to success and a well-defined plan. 

Say your long-term goal was to become the Marketing Director of a major international corporation. If you aren’t already involving in marketing, your first goal should be to gain marketing skills and eventually a qualification. This might mean going back to school, or you might want to do an online qualification. 

Your next goal should then be to score an entry level position – perhaps as a Marketing Assistant. Like many high-level positions, there is no magic bullet to landing managerial roles, and the best route is simply to pay your dues and slowly grow experience and expertise. From Marketing Assistant, you may land a promotion to Marketing Executive, and at this point your goals might shift from promotion to networking – in order to land a gig at a multi-national corporation. 

By segmenting each stage of the process, you can strategize exactly how you can build on your experience to get closer to your goal, allowing for any setbacks or lateral moves that might be needed along the way. 

Remember: SMART

The best way to assess both your long-term goals and short-term goals is to remember the acronym, SMART. This stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timelined. 

Specific – Make sure your goal is as specific as possible, to give you focus and clarity. Instead of “rich”, say, “in a management role at a fortune 500 company’, or even “on a salary of $70k+ per year”. 

Measurable – Again, if your goal is too vague, you’ll have no way to measure it, meaning you’ll never be sure of when you’ve actually achieved your goal.

Attainable – Assess your previous experience, and what you can possibly do within the timeframe of a couple decades to achieve your goal. Make sure the degree of luck or risk required is in proportion to its achievability through hard graft. 

Realistic – “astronaut” is all well and good, but if you’re hopeless at physics, this is a goal that might never happen. Dream big, but don’t waste time chasing an unrealistic goal when you could have just as easily picked another and succeeded. 

Timelined – Set rough time frames for each short-term goal, so you can assess their attainability. This will also motivate you to achieve each step and help you see your journey as one big picture.

A Final Word

The important thing to remember with goals is to find a balance between dedication and flexibility. Some of the most successful people in the world will tell you that achieving goals is all about having a one-track mind, since having a clear picture of your long-term goal will get your through the hurdles along the way. 

That being said, some people spend their whole lives working towards a goal that they never end up achieving. It’s simply the gamble of life. Keep your goals in mind, but never be afraid to adapt them as you go. Don’t consider it a failure, if, for example, you decide along the way that your goal is simply too ambitious – this is simply being sensible. Take pride in your ambition, see each short-term goal as a success in itself and challenge yourself to dream big. Good luck!

Hannah

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