Goal Setting

  • Sep 08, 2005
  • Vicky Smith
  • Career advancement

Most of us have some type of to do list or time managing system.  We either use Outlook, a day-timer or the calendar.  Whatever we use – it outlines our goals and practical activities for the day.  Yet for job seekers this daily practice goes out the window and operating in a vacuum of haphazard activity becomes the daily norm. 


Success in finding a job seldom happens through luck.  It is achieved through carefully planned goals and decisions.  Most people do not set goals and hope that life will just turn out like we want it to all by itself.  If you don’t like the word goals, think about substituting it for words like needs, interest, security, satisfaction, fulfillment or challenge.   Goals are like train rails.  They keep us on track and allow us to stay focused while moving forward.


Career management should be an ongoing proactive process not an occasional exercise prompted by job loss or sudden changes.  Everyone working should have written goals for where they want to be a year from now and then continually revise them.  “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” is a quote from Alice In Wonderland and a very good question to ponder.


When develop career goals think about and write down:


  • If I could be doing exactly what I would really enjoy doing, what would that be?
  • How much effort and time am I able and willing to devote to my work?
  • What are my salary and benefit expectations?
  • What cities would I want to work in or what part of London do I want to work in?
  • What does job satisfaction mean to me?
  • What type of people do I want to work?
  • What type of manager do I want to work for?


Christine Berthelot, Sam Lloyd and Kay Keppler in their book ‘Self Empowerment: Get What You Want From Life talk about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. means:


Specific:  Goals need to be clearly stated so they are easily understood and easy to remember.  Define whether the goal is a short or long term goal.  For example, my goal is to find a job as an accountant in a company of 75 people or less located in London, St. Thomas or Tillsonburg.  The company needs to be willing to provide ongoing training so I keep up with my skills.


Measurable:  The only way to know whether you have accomplished your goals is if you have some way to measure it.  Use numbers, if possible, to evaluate your progress.  For example, I will send out 200 resumes by the end of August.  By the end of October I will have a job offer.


Attainable: The goal needs to be realistic because an impossible goal guarantees failure and low morale.  To ensure success, your goals need to be realistic and achievable.


Results:  State your goals in terms of what you expect to happen.  This helps prevent you from taking steps without clearly identifying what you intend to achieve.


Time Limit:  Without a realistic deadline or time frame, it is too easy to procrastinate.  Have a set time limit for your goals.


Once you have set your job search goals, analyze them weekly to determine your progress.  If you create weekly action plans, you will be amazed at how much you accomplish.  This is your goal, so if you initially set an unrealistic goal – adjust it!


To achieve your goal of finding the right job you need to:


  • Take 20!  Take 20 minutes to sit down and write what you want and why.  The more time you invest in this simple task the greater your return of success
  • Tell someone you trust and who cares about your success about your goals.  If this person doesn’t exist in your life get a coach.
  • Write down a deadline by which you will achieve your goal.  It heightens your focus, motivation and commitment to getting the work done now vs. never
  • Ditch it.  Make a deal with yourself – if I don’t accomplish this goal by a stated deadline, I will ditch the goal.  If you haven’t achieved it by your deadline, you don’t want it bad enough and could better use your energy elsewhere
  • Track it.  Daily or weekly, track every action you have taken towards your goal.  This is a no-fail approach to knowing what is working, what is not and what is left to do
  • Take One-A-Day.  Take an action, however big or small, every single day that supports your goal until you reach it
  • Try, Try, Try every idea, hunch and ‘what if’.  You always get something for something but rarely something for nothing
  • Give yourself permission to flub up, take a break, or whatever else you want.  Permission liberates, energizes, inspires and empowers
  • Have fun by rewarding yourself for achieving small steps in your goals


Dr. David Viscott said, “If you cannot risk, you cannot grow.  If you cannot grow, you cannot become your best.  If you cannot become your best, you cannot be happy.  If you cannot be happy, what else matters?”