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Set Career Goals

Do you spend more time planning your vacations than your career? What's more important to you? Defining your career goals will help you make necessary steps toward a satisfying work life.

Step 1: Make a Career Plan

Want to find satisfying work? Start by thinking about your long-term career goal and the short-term activities that will help you achieve it. These pieces will make up your career plan.

  • What is your long-term career goal?
  • What are short-term activities to reach this goal?
  • Write these down in your career plan.

Sample Career Plan

  • Long-term career goal: Project Manager
  • Short-term activities
    • Learn more
      Talk with three people in this career to develop a list of realistic activities within one month
    • Develop related skills
      Take an online project management software course within six months
    • Practice skills
      Use the software at work or as a volunteer experience
    • Get experience
      Ask my boss for a small project that I can manage within six months
    • Gain education and training
      Finish my degree within two years

Step 2: Follow Your Career Plan

You've set your career goals and defined the steps necessary to achieve them. Now follow your written plan.

  • What do you need to make your career goals real?
    • Determine that your career goals are realistic by using Reality Check.
    • Look for careers that match your interests, skill set, and salary requirements. Explore the job market and look at lists of growing or in-demand careers.
    • Set realistic time frames and adjust them as needed.
    • Make sure your activities are specific and achievable.
    • Just do it! Make it happen with your time, energy, and money.
  • How will you reward yourself for achieving even your smallest activities?
  • Who will support you and help you?
    • Don't just write down your plan. Tell people about it and get their feedback and support.

Step 3: Review and Update Your Career Plan

You may run into roadblocks or want to change your mind. Don't be discouraged!

  • Take a look at your career plan and adjust it as needed.
  • Change your activities if they aren't working for you.
  • Take a different path to achieve your goals.
  • Understand that the world of work changes quickly and so can you.

Once you achieve your career goals, reward yourself and rethink your goals. Careers are a life-long journey.

More Goal Setting Resources

Use the resources below for inspiration or other ways to explore goal setting?

CareerOneStop's Career Goals and Education
This section allows you to view education and training requirements for occupations and helps you to set goals around them.

MyMnCareers' Set Goals Section
This section guides you through making long-and short-term goals and completing a career plan.

Career SMART Goals Worksheet 
This worksheet guides students and job seekers through the steps of developing a SMART career goal.