Having goals, both work, and personal give a sense of direction and focus on what we want to achieve.

Depending on the organisation you are working in, you may already have a set of goals and objectives which you are working towards. Most likely, if you already have work related goals, they will be set in the SMART format, which is the most effective way of setting goals. Goals should always be written down and time bound, the saying, “what gets measured gets done” is true.

S.M.A.R.T. Acronym

So just as you may have goals set around your work, it is important too that you have goals set for your own professional growth and development. Unless you have development goals set for yourself, it is unlikely that you will develop your full personal and career potential.

So, how might you go about setting development goals for yourself? Here are some steps you could take:

Assess your current strengths and weaknesses

What is your level of education / qualifications?

What skills do you have?

What knowledge have you built up?

Do you have all the skills/knowledge and competencies you require in your current role?

Are you happy in your current role or do you wish to grow and progress your career further?

Are you happy with how you communicate with others, are you confident in your interaction with your peers and more senior people in your organisation? Where would you like to be 2/3/5 years from now?

Are there roles in your organisation that you aspire to?

If so, what steps do you need to take to start working towards these roles? Experience in different areas, further study, personal development e.g. confidence building, social skills, networking etc.

How do your career plans fit in with your overall lifestyle, commitments etc?

Take a look at your life in general and see how you can fit everything in, e.g. family commitments, lifestyle, extra study etc.

Do you have the time and support you need to pursue your plans?

How motivated are you personally to make sacrifices in the short term for long terms career gain?

Tips for Setting A Career Goal

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses. It is always easier to work to your strengths and you will probably recognise that there are certain areas of your work where you can excel.

2. Know what you overall goal is for your career. This will help you know where your life is going and how it will intersect with your career. Always have a time frame for your goal.

3. Know the steps you will need to take to achieve your goal. Think about road blocks you may face and think about how you will overcome them.

4. Make sure your goal is SMART and measure your progress regularly. This will help keep you motivated and provide you with a sense of accomplishment. A sense of accomplishment will spur you on to greater things.

Plan Accordingly

A career can be one of the most important and rewarding things in your life, and with a properly planned career and career goals, you will be able to achieve what you want from your career in the most efficient way possible.


We can often get discouraged about our goals when we don’t have the support of close friends and family. It is important to talk about and share your goals with people who will share your excitement and offer encouragement and support. Never be afraid to dream big and enjoy the journey of reaching your goal. It is also a good idea to have a friend or mentor to hold us accountable and with whom we can check in if we let ourselves off the hook when it comes to taking the actions required to achieve the goal.

If you are truly serious about career development or aiming to achieve a big promotion, then you could consider seeking professional support to assist you along the way. The services of a coach or mentor to guide you on the path to achieving your goal may be a very worthwhile investment.

Two takes on the same theme. Joint motivational blog for success at work and home by author Geraldine O’Neill and HR Consultant Anne Scally.

Two takes on the same theme. Joint motivational blog for success at work and home by author Geraldine O’Neill and HR Consultant Anne Scally.