Believe it — there is a right way and a wrong way to approach setting career goals. In a nutshell, the more specific your goals are, the better.
If your professional goals are nebulous, like “become rich” or “gain success,” you may be psyching yourself out without even realizing what you’re doing. Setting specific goals gives you the motivation and focus to begin making them a reality.
Ready to readjust your goal setting methods? Here are just six reasons why you need to set specific goals to get ahead in your professional career to get ahead:
1. They keep you motivated.
Setting specific goals allows you to get really clear on what you are working toward in your career and why.
For instance, if you have a vague goal like “Make more money,” it will supply similarly vague motivation. When you reach the first sign of resistance, that goal will seem unattainable and too hard, and you’ll be more likely to give up. On the other hand, a specific goal like “Buy a condo in San Diego” is very specific and gives you something specific to work toward and to help you maintain motivation.
2. You’re more likely to achieve specific goals.
Goal Setting Theory is the culmination of research that began in the 1960s by Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham. In researching the connection between clear goals and performance, they found that there was a relationship between how difficult and how specific a goal was and people’s performance of a task. Further, they discovered that specific and difficult goals led to better task performance than vague or easy goals.
Basically, research shows that when you have specific long-term goals, you’re far more likely to perform better, which will ultimately make achieving said goals far more possible.
Related: 6 Reasons Goal Setting Is a Complete Waste of Time for New Entrepreneurs
3. You can break big goals into mini goals.
A benefit of setting specific goals is that you can then get tactical about how to make them a reality. Namely, you can break each goal down into mini goals or milestones.
Say that one of your goals is to increase sales for your business by 25 percent this year. You can set specific dollar amounts as milestones for each month or quarter. Having mini goals like this will help you stay inspired and will give you an impetus to put specific actions in work to make them happen.
4. You can adjust as needed.
Specific goals are kind of like a career roadmap. However, just like your car’s GPS, sometimes you need to shift the destination for various reasons. It’s easier to shift or adjust a specific goal than it is to change a vague one.
For instance, say you are approaching your very specific goal at a more rapid rate than anticipated. To keep yourself motivated, you can look at that goal and adjust it to meet your current circumstances. This way, you always have something to work toward and can continue to push yourself in positive ways.
5. They will make you more confident.
There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes from setting a specific goal, working hard and then finally attaining it. It makes you feel confident and secure in your own abilities. When you’re imbued with this sense of self-accomplishment, it has the effect of making you feel more self-confident. Self-confidence can help you advance quicker in your career and improve your performance, which helps keep you working toward your goals with ease.
6. They make you more ambitious.
Once you’ve set and then attained a few specific goals, you’ll believe in yourself even more. This means that as you progress in your career, your goals will become even bigger and more ambitious. By continually setting specific goals and adjusting them to remain aspirational, you’ll create a powerful source of inspiration that will serve you throughout the course of your career and life.
Set specific goals from now on and you’ll see a big difference over time!