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Are Your Career Goals Realistic?

June 1, 2016

It seems that every professional at one point or another can’t help but make career goals for themselves. Maybe you don’t write them down or even stick to them in any serious way, but we all at least daydream about how we’d like things to go. Whether you hate your job and make a plans to move onto a new job, or you love your job and make plans to move up the ladder, we all make plans. And that’s a good thing. Career goals can be a great motivator for you. Short term goals can help you work hard and achieve more, while long term goals can help stop you from becoming stagnant in your current position. But as much as a well-planned career goal can help, an unrealistic goal can become obstacles.

How does one create an unrealistic goal for themselves? Well, one explanation is that some folks are just confused as to what a career goal actually is. Too many people see career goals as a wish list. They tend to list a bunch of things they want to accomplish and the realism of it all doesn’t enter into the equation. Or maybe they see their goals as things they deserve, and as we all know, deserving something does not guarantee you’ll get it. Mostly people build their unrealistic career goals on things that are out of their hands.

Fast Company recently took a look at three unrealistic career goals they advised their readers to give up on. The three goals (promotion, salary raise and career change) all were given a definitive timeline. Let’s be clear, an effective career goal should have a timeline, but the problem with these goals is they are putting a timeline on a something that relies too heavily on factors out of your control. Promotions, salary advancements and career changes are unpredictable events which can not be predicted. Putting a schedule on them will not make them happen, it will just put pressure on you to achieve something that’s out of your hands.

So how do you create realistic career goals?

When you think about your future in your career, what is your ideal situation? Have a clear understanding of what you want, once you do, start poking holes in it. You need to be critical of each of your goals. Yes, you should be considering things that you want, but then ask yourself how you can influence the results. Goals are commitments and nothing will happen if you’re unwilling to put in the work.

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