Executive Education

Getting Started Correctly: 15 Tips to Define Realistic Career Goals after College Graduation

Just after graduation, former students find themselves on a crossroad and face with the need to decide where they should move further and what to do the first. Having great ambitions and seemingly wide circle of options to choose future occupation they often try first thing that comes back to their hands or, vice versa, cannot stop their choice on something one questioning each of proposals. Both situations are the result of career goal’s absence which should be your road-map in further professional life. Often graduates underestimate the role of planning and setting the goal, indeed it is the primary precondition for your further professional success, especially in the context of your first career step.

Your first professional choice: a matter of extreme importance

An Eastern wisdom says that a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step and this step is of crucial significance as well as it determines your further direction. Speaking in geographical terms, you cannot begin to move towards China when you want to reach Paris (being somewhere in the middle between them). If you act in such way, you anyhow will be condemned to numerous difficulties and disappointment.

The same situation is with your career first choice: when your first step is wrong, you will never realize your professional ambitions or reaching desirable point will require more time and efforts you can expect.  Thus, setting a realistic goal not only save your time but also protect your intellectual and emotional potential you need for success. Be extremely scrupulous when choosing and defining your professional goals.

Address your expectations correctly: what is a realistic goal?

Just imagine the postman who has to deliver a parcel to somebody with the surname Peters.  Do you imagine? Now, let’s start count how many days, months, years (or centuries) this hapless postman will waste to find that addressee not knowing the country, city, street’s name and number where he or she lives.  Do not you consider this task utopian or not realistic?

You see the importance of correct addressing. You can ask where the relation between this allegory and your career goal is.  Let us answer with questioning you whether setting the goal is not the addressing your professional expectations and ambitions in its essence.  We think it is. Thus to get the destination you should address correctly not missing any important details. Only then your goal will be realistic and achievable.  Predicting your next question “how create the most detailed address?” we propose you a few ideas below.

15 Tips to Define Realistic Career Goals

1. Evaluate your abilities and competencies

Your knowledge and skills are the ground for further professional self-realization. You should know your strengths and weaknesses. Be critical and honest attributing your features to one or another list. It allows you find the area for improvement and maybe you will get the first career goal.

2. Do not ignore your interests

People often try being pragmatic and aimed at gaining material goods forgetting about the things which make them happy and inspired. Not without it, but consider you can do well only those businesses you are interested in. Your interests, hobbies can lead you to success more quickly and easily. Count this fact when setting your goals.

3. Ask for specialists’ advice

It is a good idea to start planning your career when you are in college. You have an opportunity to get a support of career center. If you had already graduated, did not consider you lost such the opportunity. Go to psychologists or other specialists on personal and professional growth.  They not only could help you evaluate your abilities and innate potential realistically but also cope with “real world” tension. The majority of graduates face this psychological phenomenon obstructing their ability think rationally.

4. Define your strategic goal

It may seem illogical to start from the end but remember about the postman and addressing approach. You should know where is your final destination to make your first step in the needed direction.

5. Break your strategy into smaller stages

Knowing your ultimate professional purpose, you can easily define a few intermediate points you should reach in the shorter terms. These points will serve as indicator saying you are moving in a right direction. Moreover, it brings you more precise understanding of what you need to do now for getting the closest defined point.

6. Research the possible perspectives in your professional area

Nowadays the world is incredibly dynamic. To be successful, you should think two steps forward. It also provides you with competitiveness in the labor market.

7. Do not be afraid of changes. Break the limits of your comfort zone

Changing of habitual living place, leaving the parents or closest surroundings often causes a lot of fears. Frighten emotions often makes people refuse from bright perspectives and good opportunities. Be strong and resolute to become free from fears and oppressing emotions.

8. Motivate yourself

Motivating is the best way to cope with uncertainty, fear of difficulties. Because of this, experts claim that your goal should be rewarding. The expectation for the winning moment should be the first thing motivating you.

9. Do not waste time to find the easiest way

Such approach almost always is a false choice. It is a self-deception resulting in disappointment. Remember meaningfulness of outcomes is equal to the amount of made efforts.

10. Compare and verify a few variants of the goal

There is never a single way to achieve the desired purpose.  As a rule, you should think over few variants of your career goal. The major principle to make the right choice is adjusting them to your potential, expectations, strategic purpose, life circumstances, etc. One that suits you the most will be the winning. Another one you can keep in mind as an alternative.

11. Discuss your goal

Although the idea about the negative influence of saying your goal aloud exists, we guess you need discussing for setting a realistic goal. Thinking alone you “cook in your own juice”, you cannot be critically enough. Other people could question the aspect you never considered weak or losing. Discussing is the best way to check whether your goal is realistic.

12. Remember about the times

Somebody said that nothing made people more productive than the deadline. It is the truth. Defining the time limits, you become aware of the true value of time and see more brightly the volumes of work you should accomplish within the defined terms.

13. Do not overestimate your forces

Being inspired, we mistakenly consider we can do everything. Indeed, you should remember about saving work-life balance. You need sleep, health schedule of nutrition, live communication with friends and family, etc. Extremely intensive work causes exhausting and burnout leading to poor outcomes and failing in achieving defined goals.

14. Be consistent

Each case should have its time. It means that you should not run ahead. For example, you found out that some IT program you need in your profession in two years will be produced with rare lingual functions. Do not set a goal to learn this language before you master the program itself.

15. Rethink your goal

Defining goal is not the issue of one hour or even day. Think, evaluate, research, dream and adjust your goal to your new consequences.

You may think that defining a career goal is a rather complicated task. Partially it is really not such easy as it may seem at first sight. However, the results are worth making such tremendous efforts to be successful in future. Sooner or later you will come to this thought, and it is better to become aware of this at the very beginning.

Written by: Petra Mainer, the head content manager at EssayServiceWriter.com, studied Information Management, and writes for different digital and edublogs

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