You might be familiar with the practice of goal setting-- perhaps your teachers, counselors, or parents have talked about how important it is. This skill helps curb the habit of procrastination and helps you set your priorities in all areas of your life. But that’s not all-goal setting is especially important for setting career goals. If you already have a dream career, goals will help you take steps toward it. If you’re unsure of, how you're going to go about it setting goals to explore career paths and discover your interests is one of the best places to start. Your goals don’t have to be big milestones like finally buying a fancy sports car, living in a famous city, or vacationing in the Bahamas. It’s best to make goals manageable and realistic. Your career goals specifically can be big (land a virtual internship at your dream company next year), small (network with 3 new people each month), and even smaller (apply to 1 scholarship by the end of the day)!
So, why goal setting?
GOAL SETTING HELPS YOU PRIORITIZE WHAT’S IMPORTANT
Why is goal setting so vital to your career journey? Defining goals takes the guesswork out of your planning. Deciding your priorities and goals beforehand switches the focus from the ‘Why’ and the ‘What’ to ‘How,’ and ‘When.’
Goals and the habits they develop are really important for student motivation. Some days we might feel down because of a bad test score or problems in our personal lives. Other days, we may be uninspired and bored. Goals encourage us to take some action, no matter how small, towards our dream career every day.
Goals give you concrete objectives to focus on, and you can customize them according to the timeframe you are working with. Having clear motivations behind what you do will help you decide your priorities and what you should say “yes!” to on a daily basis.
THE WHEN & THE HOW
These two aspects of your productivity are what you’ll spend time on in your day-to-day work if you have set goals. Essentially, goal setting allows you to get things done with more clarity and purpose, instead of stressing out. And you don’t have to worry about the big picture goals. Each day you can focus on scheduling your time and breaking down each task into manageable pieces. And then, get started!
GOAL SETTING HELPS YOU MAKE SUSTAINABLE PROGRESS
Let’s take a look at an example to better understand this concept.
Lisa and John both want to pursue a career in animation. John enthusiastically jumps into taking animation courses online and hopes to make a short film. However, he has set unrealistic goals for himself and haphazardly (and frustratedly) works towards them every night. But Lisa knows she is a novice. She decides to do some research online, talk to peers who have animating experience, and creates a blueprint for the steps she needs to take.
Eventually, John is completely burnt out, and can't find the motivation to continue. But Lisa continues her animation journey and is a few weeks away from completing her first film.
Lack of proper planning and setting unrealistic goals led to John quitting a passion project he might have really enjoyed. On the other hand, Lisa first understood the requirements of the project and planned out how much time she will need at each step. She set smaller, short term goals, and worked towards larger long term ones.
a. Tip: Short term goals are the necessary steps you take to reach the “final” long term goal. Breaking down goals into manageable steps is key!
Maybe this is a story you’ve heard before-- in your own hobbies or side projects, or those of your friends. The bottom line here is that working at a steady pace, with clear objectives, is better (more sustainable) than working without a plan.
GOAL SETTING IN HIGH SCHOOL AND BEYOND
Developing goal-setting in high school will help you prepare for your work life. Learning to set goals will help you create a routine that provides structure to your work habits.
After high school or college, you’ll have to set your own priorities, and will have more freedom than you do now. But that means it’s harder to keep pace with your work.
Goal-setting helps you narrow your focus and prioritize working toward what matters to you. Having a big-picture vision of what you want to achieve, setting bite-sized goals, and taking daily steps will help take out the guesswork in your decision-making.
Also, with goals, we don’t just receive the immediate satisfaction of completing each daily step. Reaching an objective and looking back at the steps you took to get there is incredibly motivating. You’ll find that each goal
Want to learn about how to set goals now that you know why they’re so important? Check out the next article in our goal-setting series for step-by-step instructions.