Set, track your career goals

Set, track your career goals
  • Identify the specific career goal you would like to track.
  • Science Magazine’s article: Goal-Setting Strategies for Scientific and Career Success, proposes that you use the SMART principle.

Tracking career goals is probably one of the oft-ignored components of building a career.

Perhaps this is logical because if it is already too difficult to get a job, there may not really be space to consider your goals, what you want to make out of a job or what progress will look like for you once you finally land that job you have spent months looking for.

But combining unpreparedness and a lack of clarity is a sure way of stagnating in your career.

Setting clear career goals could be crucial because of something as simple as, “a lack of specific goals can result to a lot of time wasted applying for random open positions that are neither favourable nor conducive to the job seeker” as listed in the Forbes article The Importance of Setting Firm Career Goals or as complex as having a career goal, and knowing exactly what you want to achieve in a certain position in a particular company.

This will determine the kind of professional courses you enroll for, what courses to pursue in further education, how to network professionally, what kind of working space you need, including what mentors you should enlist in your career journey and what experiences are relevant to the trajectory you foresee your career on.

However, tracking these goals should be done carefully, empirically even, to ensure that there are clear distinctions between actualities that can be executed and dreamy ideas that might not be actionable in the real world as we know it.

Identify the specific career goal you would like to track.

Science Magazine’s article: Goal-Setting Strategies for Scientific and Career Success, proposes that you use the SMART principle.


Make sure that the goal you are trying to achieve in your career or business is crystal clear. Ambiguity of any nature should be eliminated so that you are able to focus. In a film scriptwriting class, the key lesson was, if you cannot say what your movie is about in a single line (insisting that you need a paragraph to say what your film is about) then chances are, you do not really know what your movie is about. The same principle applies here.

There should be no doubt in your mind what your goal is.


Is it possible for someone to determine whether you achieved this goal or not? In other words, there should be parameters to determine your achievement.

For example, do you know that you have achieved your goal when the number of clients increases or is the measure of your success becoming proficient with a new software?


This is what gets you there. Determine the specific actions that will lead you to achieve your goal, e.g. more training? Getting to work earlier? Networking more? Determine what the action is and do it.


Endowed with youth, there is usually the temptation to see everything as possible – after all, you have grown up hearing that “the sky is your stepping stone”.

But while you are brooking on limiting horizons, remember to honestly assess your environment, your abilities and your resources and divide your goals into achievable portions. Do not overwhelm yourself.


Determine a timeframe within which you want to achieve your goals and stick to the deadlines.

Have a vision board.

A vision board usually has the list of things you are working towards achieving, typically put at a place where you can see every morning as you begin your day. One of my coaches suggests that it is next to your bathroom mirror – where you can see it as you brush your teeth and it reminds you about the goals you are working towards. This hints at another quality that the vision-board should have:


The goal you are tracking should be framed positively, in a way that motivates you “Publish my first peer-reviewed academic paper in a reputable journal by end of August 2019” is better than “Avoid being published by a predator journal”. MindTools: “Eight Common Goal Setting Mistakes” says negative framing is emotionally unattractive, which makes it hard to focus on them.

Reframe any negative goals so that they sound positive. The underlining idea is that you are constantly reminded of the goal(s) you want to achieve and stay challenged and on the path to delivering the promise you have made to yourself.

Goals can be revised.

Once you set a goal, do not be held down by a certain notion that you cannot change or that if you do not achieve that goal you become a failure.

Situations can change, your perspectives can shift or even your own reflections can uncover something different so when you set a goal and come to a different awakening, you can always change.

Jobs Interview site: how to change your career goals, says that when you have a major career change to process, whether it is major or just something minor, begin by evaluating it, and answering the following questions: “Why do I want to make this change?” “What do I expect to gain from this change?” “How will my life and career be improved by this change?

Being honest with yourself to find out why you are seeking change, and what you want to gain from it, is very important.