Setting Goals for your Career

October 18, 2018


People use many different methods to take action on their career decisions. Like preparing for an OE (Overseas Experience), some travellers just go without too much preparation. They aren’t sure where they want to go, what they’ll find when they get there, or even what they need to bring – they just go! Perhaps they use their instincts or feelings to guide them and they enjoy the sense of adventure that comes with going into the unknown.

Other people like to plan their trip quite carefully, reading about the places they might travel to, surfing the internet for sites and web‐logs, and booking their travel and accommodation ahead of time. They use resources and analytical thinking to guide them and they enjoy the sense of knowing what to expect.

Most OE travellers use elements of both at various times. And sometimes the unexpected happens causing plans to be changed or replaced by alternatives.

Taking action on your career decisions is much the same. Some people rely more on intuition and feelings, whereas others use logical thinking strategies to plan their next steps.


Goals are helpful for focusing your attention on something that you seek but being flexible about your goals allows you to be open to other possibilities. In today’s world of work, there is constant change. You can’t always be certain that what you want now is what you’ll want when you get there. Being somewhat tentative about your goals helps you to avoid being controlled by them, because you’ll continue to review them, update them, and discover new ones. Being flexible allows you to be open to serendipity.


Setting goals is a more logical and analytical process, but even those inclined to following their intuition will benefit from goal setting strategies.


SMART is a great goal setting strategy because it can be useful to take goals out of your head and write them down. 

S is for Specific
  • Define the who, what, when, where and why of your goal
  • Be specific with the description of your goal.
M is for Measurable
  • Create goals where you can track your progress
  • Have a tangible outcome as a result of your goal: ask yourself – how will I know when my goal has been accomplished?
A is for Attainable
  • Attainable goals require you to investigate whether the goal is realistic and achievable.
  • Consider the effort, time and costs your goal will require as well as the commitments you already have in your life.
R is for Relevant
  • Consider what your long term goals are – will this goal help you get there?
T is for Time-Based
  • Set a realistic deadline for each stage of your goal; setting unrealistic deadlines and then subsequently not meeting them will be detrimental to your motivation.

If you would like to learn more about setting your own goals, the Employability and Careers team hold regular Goat Setting Success Workshops. You can check out all the events here.


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