Importance of Setting Career Goals (and How to Do It)



19 September, 2023

Importance of Setting Career Goals (and How to Do It)

Career goals are important for professional growth. No matter whether you are a fresher who is seeking a lucrative job or an experienced professional looking to climb up the corporate ladder, without having well-defined goals, you will be lost.

Therefore, it is very important to clearly define your career goals. These goals will help you create a plan on what you want to achieve and where you want to be headed. Thus, you will never feel stuck in your career and will soar to great heights.

But what are career goals? How to set them? How can you make sure that these goals help you get the desired results? And do they have other benefits besides facilitating professional growth? In this blog, we will address each of these questions.

What are Career Goals?

Career goals are statements that clearly define the career path that an individual seeks to pursue. These goals help professionals create an action plan and measure their progress accordingly.

They further help individuals to reflect on their personal as well as professional growth and seek better opportunities. They help to keep an individual motivated to fulfil their dreams.

However, one must be careful not to set unrealistic career goals as it can lead to disappointment and thus, in turn, failure. To make the most out of your career goals, you can break them down into small targets that can be accomplished within a small frame of time.

How to Set Career Goals?

setting career plan

Yale University once conducted a survey wherein they asked their students if they had any goals for the future. Those who did have goals were further asked if they have ever written those goals. Surprisingly, there were only 3% people who did. The same group of students was surveyed again 20 years later. It was found that the 3% who had written their goals were doing better in life both personally as well as professionally. They were earning more than their peers, were more confident, happy and self-aware. This story alone is enough to reflect how important it is to set certain goals for yourself early on in your life. But how do you do that? How do you set effective career goals and make sure you achieve them? Here, we are sharing certain tips that can help:

  • Ask the Right Questions

In order to set the most effective goals, you must first ask yourself “what do I want to do” or “what do I love doing the most”. After that, you must ask yourself “why do I like doing it”? After this, you must ask yourself “When do I want to achieve this” and “what skills do I need to get there”. Once you are done figuring out all these questions, you will have well-defined goals for yourself.

  • Use the “SMART” Approach

The key to ensuring success in your career goals is to make sure that your goals are effective. To achieve that, you must use the “SMART” formula. It means that you must keep your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

  • Write Your Goals and Break Them Down into Smaller Goals

Studies indicate that individuals who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them. This is because writing the goals down helps you visualise success and be more mindful of them. Furthermore, you must break down your goals into smaller goals that you can achieve in a small interval of time. For instance, if your goal is to become the marketing head of your company, you must start by asking yourself what skills you need and how you can develop them. After that, you must figure out what you can do about it in the next year, 6 months and 45 days. After that, you must identify what you can do today in order to work towards them.

  • Use the “HARD” Formula

In order to make the most out of your career goals, you must design your goals to challenge yourself. Mark Murphy, the New York Times Best Selling Author refers to this as the HARD goals. It means that your goals must be Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult.

Why is It Important to Set Career Goals?

Setting career goals is crucial as they have been found to boost productivity, improve self-confidence, and keep you organised. Thus, it helps in leading a more fulfilled life. According to an article published by Forbes, not having well-defined career goals can hurt your employment prospects. This is because a lack of goals reflects self-handicap and a lack of futuristic thinking. Therefore, it is important to set goals to ensure career success. Here, we have listed top 5 ways in which setting career goals can lead to a more successful career:

  • Keep You Motivated

Career goals give you a purpose, a target to achieve. This acts as a source of motivation as you always have an end goal to achieve. However, in order to make sure that your goals drive you, it is important that you set clear and specific goals. Let us take an example to understand this better. Let’s say that your goal is to buy a house. Now, this goal might not be enough to keep you motivated as it is not specific and cannot be visualised. However, if your goal is to buy a 3BHK apartment with wooden flooring, a sea-facing balcony at the most posh location in your city, it might push you to do better as now, you have a clear picture of what you want.

  • Help You Focus on What is Important

When you have set goals for yourself, it will help you to always focus on the bigger picture and walk towards the things that will lead you towards those goals. This will help in avoiding unnecessary distractions, enabling you to move forward in the right direction. This will save you a lot of time, save you from unnecessary troubles and make you feel more accomplished.

  • Help Gain Momentum

Having specific and reliable career goals will give your career a direction. Diving these goals into smaller tasks will keep you inspired as whenever you finish one task, you will feel more energised to work towards the next task. This will keep your momentum going.

  • Help Achieve Self-Discipline

Goals are a means to develop many important skills in life. For instance, they help you become more organised and self-disciplined. It builds your character and promotes self-efficacy. When you have a goal in mind, you will do everything to make sure that it comes true. This will encourage you to become more focused, disciplined and organised.

  • Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired

There are many studies that have found that recruiters prefer to go for those candidates who have set certain objectives and career goals for themselves. This is because these are the individuals who have the passion to not just achieve but go beyond their set goals. Thus, they will work with greater enthusiasm and dedication. Therefore, setting career goals can enhance your chances of landing a well-paying job opportunity and will even accelerate the pace at which you climb up the corporate ladder.


Career goals will help you in a number of ways. For starters, they will make you more disciplined and organised. Furthermore, they will act as a constant source of motivation to do better. Not just this but they will also improve your employment prospects. Thus, it becomes important to set some clearly defined goals for yourself. Divide these goals into smaller and easily achievable tasks. It will do wonders for your career.

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