Setting Goals

Setting goals is important in any career. Use these goal setting tips to ensure you stay on the right track.

Writing a five-year professional goal statement and action plan

Many people spend their lives simply reacting to what is going on around them, living a life without goals or purpose. Take the first step toward controlling your future by identifying a goal.

Here, you'll write down a professional goal you'd like to achieve in five years. Studies show that you can increase your chances of achieving your goals by writing them down—but how you write them down has an impact on your success as well.

To write an achievable goal statement, consider the following tips:

  • Your goal should be given a specific timeframe. In this case, think about where you'd like to be professionally in five years.
  • Your goal should be measurable. An example of a goal that is NOT measurable might be, "I want to increase my sales numbers". A measurable goal might state, "In five years, I will increase my sales numbers by 50 percent in the Southeast region".
  • Identify family, friends, mentors, coworkers, and supervisors who can help you achieve your goal. Don't neglect to check out additional resources such as the Internet, libraries, career centers, and your employee handbook.
  • While you shouldn't set a goal too low, make sure it's realistic and appropriate, given your experience, education, and resources.
  • Set a goal based on your personal performance. In other words, avoid setting a goal that could be greatly influenced by factors beyond your control. You may be setting yourself up for failure.
  • Material wealth shouldn't be your only incentive. Wealth may be a motivating factor in the short-term, but basing all your goals on such things will leave you feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
  • Make sure this is something you want to do, not because others think you should do it. Remember, it's your life and your future.
  • Avoid any self-defeating language such as, "I'd like to try to increase my sales, but I doubt if I can do it". A positive attitude is essential in turning your daydream into reality.

Writing a five-year professional goal action plan

man working at computer

Congratulations! You've already taken the first step toward achieving workplace success by identifying and recording a professional goal. However, achieving one's goals doesn't happen overnight. It takes careful planning, focus, and daily persistence. The next step toward achieving your goal is creating an action plan.

Print out our Writing a Professional Goal Action Plan Worksheet to help you complete this exercise.