6 Surefire Goal Setting Tips That Actually Work

Goal setting begins with defining a goal

When you think of goal-setting, it can seem simple. First, you define what goal you want to achieve. Then you take specific steps to reach the goal. 

But if goal setting were really that easy, we wouldn’t have roadblocks. We would think of what we wanted to attain and then we would accomplish it.

Setting goals, especially when it comes to your career, can keep you motivated, even when it seems like you are not making any progress. 

    If you’re searching for a new job or changing careers, having a goal in mind can give you the self-confidence to get outside of your comfort zone and reach for something better.

    But as you know goals can be complicated. Sometimes it’s hard to even define what your goal is. So, how can you plan your strategies if you don’t know what the goal is? 

    Soul-based Job Search is a goal-based job search. This article will give you science-based goal setting tips that actually work.

    Goal Setting Definition

    What is goal setting? The definition of goal setting is deciding what you want to accomplish and putting measurable strategies and timeframes into place. 

    For example, if your goal is to find a new, but similar job, you would apply to at least 5 jobs a week for the next three weeks in an effort to reach that goal.

    Why is Goal-Setting Important?

    Goal setting is important because it helps you focus on what you really want. Imagine you want to make mashed potatoes. You’ve never made them and aren’t sure what ingredients to buy, other than potatoes. Even so, there are a ton of different types of spuds.

    You go to the grocery store and there are thousands of items. A hundred of the items could be good substitutes for the mashed potatoes. But you have a recipe. 

    A plan to achieve mashed potatoes. You need russet potatoes, milk, butter and a dollop of cream cheese. Now things come into focus.

    Goals are like that recipe. Setting the right goal can help you focus your efforts and use your time on activities that will be the most effective in achieving your goals. in a nutshell goals eliminate distractions.

    6 Goal-setting Tips That Actually Work

    1. Set Meaningful and Specific Goals

    You may have heard of the term SMART goals. These goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic measurable and time-based. 

    But I also want to remind you: You are the keeper of your goals. Choose ones that excite you. Your goals should be meaningful. 

    For example, setting the goal of I want to find a new job, isn’t meaningful or specific. It could apply to anyone. Why would you work to achieve someone else’s goal? 

    Think about what you really want from your new job.

    What would get you excited about going to work each day? Do you want more money? Then exactly how much do you want? Do you want to feel valued for your skills and experience? What specific strengths do you want to use in your new job?

    If you aren’t sure, I wrote this in-depth guide to help you identify your strengths. 

    Setting and reaching a goal means change. We resist change. 

    How often do you drive a new way to work? Big changes, such as a new job or career, require a lot of motivation. Meaningful and specific-to-you goals will motivate you.

    2. Take Baby Steps to Reach Your Goal

    Baby walking

    Use small, incremental behavioral changes to reach your goal. These mini-goals result in small changes that are easier to adjust to. 

    Build on the changes once the first change becomes comfortable. Baby steps also fight procrastination because they are easy to do and it’s hard to excuse them away.

    I use baby steps when I get motivated to clean up my diet. It takes time, but the changes stay around longer than when I go cold turkey. 

    Start with the easiest change. For a diet it would be to drink more water or eat at least once piece of fruit a day. That’s it. There’s no pressure and it becomes a habit quickly. 

    For your job search, a baby step might be to take 10 minutes a day thinking about your new job. Visualize where you work and what you’ll be doing. You could also set a timer for 10 minutes a day and look for jobs. Check out my list of career pages of popular companies.

    Once you get the easy stuff out of the way, you can stretch into the more difficult tasks. 

    For the diet analogy, these would be giving up candy and exercising 20 minutes a day. But the accomplishment of drinking more water and feeling better is the motivation to do more.

    For your job search, you could customize or rewrite your resume, attend a networking event once a month or create a resume website. These tasks support your goal but are also a bit more time-consuming.

    3. Practice Accountability

    While reaping the rewards of your goals is fun, setbacks and failures can derail your goals, if you let them. This is where accountability comes in.

    Let’s say you promised yourself to spend 10 minutes a day looking at job postings. This can become boring after a week or two, especially when you aren’t seeing any prospects.

    You can use consequences to keep you on task. These mini-punishments should be powerful enough to keep you from giving up, but not so firm that you create other problems.

    For instance, you can promise yourself that if you skip a job searching session, you have to stay off social media for 24 hours.

    Or you have to do 50 pushups. Make a list of tasks you dread and use them to motivate you to keep going.

    4. Keep Goals Believable

    Graphs and charts

    This is where reality and making goals realistic comes in. Is it really possible to increase your earnings from $50,000 a year to $1 million? 

    Be real. It’s not likely. If you don’t completely believe you can achieve your goal, you won’t try. If you do try, you may get discouraged and quit along the way. 

    The goal should be challenging, but not so difficult that you feel overwhelmed.

    5. Track Your Progress

    Remember to go for progress, not perfection. Measuring your progress is crucial to assess if the goal needs adjusting. 

    It provides information on how well you’re doing. You can’t know how much progress you’ve made if you don’t measure it. When you diet, you can’t feel or see a 5-pound weight loss, but you see it when you step on the scale.

    For the job search, if you are applying to 5 jobs a week, after a few months, you can measure your success by how many interviews you’ve gotten. 

    If you didn’t get any interviews, you can shift your strategy to rewrite your resume or attend more networking events.

    If you are seeing results, it can give you a boost of enthusiasm and positivity. Making progress feels awesome.

    6. Be Prepared for Goal Setting Setbacks

    Achieving your goal is rarely an easy process. There will be days bad days when you will doubt yourself or fall back on old habits. 

    Rather than quit your goal when things get tough, prepare yourself for failure.

    Have a plan to deal with failure and frustration. Vent to a friend or remind yourself of the goal’s purpose. A vision board is a great tool to remind yourself of how you will feel when you reach your goal. 

    Here’s some fun and easy (even if your craft-challenged) vision board ideas I wrote about. I even created 41 career vision board labels for you to use. Reviewing your success so far can also help.

    Taking preventative measures against failure is also a good idea. For example, if you know that you’ll cheat on your diet when the evening munchies hit, have healthy snacks ready to go.

    If you are tired in the evening, do your job searching activities in the morning. I like to tackle goals after my first cup of dark roast. Vroom vroom.

    Goals can change your life. Luck and circumstance have minor roles in the path your life and career takes. Give goals a chance to keep you focused on what you really want and get you there. Good luck and get goaling. 

    Tracey Lamphere

    Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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