Career Goals Are Not Going To Get You The Career You Want

I have a love-hate relationship with goal setting.  I love the act of setting goals for the year, month, week, etc but I hate the fact that only 8% of people ever actually reach their goals (as reported by  So why is this happening?

Well, there are lots of reasons but the one that I see that has the biggest impact is simply setting a goal and then not taking any actions to achieve it.  I have clients who come to me with these big career dreams and when I ask why they haven’t achieved that career dream already; they say that they don’t know.  When I ask what they have already done to achieve the goal, they say nothing.  This is clearly the problem.  A goal without a plan is just a wish.  If you are setting career goals and then doing literally NOTHING to achieve them then those career goals are just wishes.

The below tips are going to help you set career goals that will work for you but more importantly, these tips are designed to get you focused on actually achieving the goals you set and ultimately landing the career of your dreams.

Set goals that you actually care about

This step sounds super simple, right?  But here’s the thing, a lot of people set goals that other people like their parents, partner, friends or manager care about, NOT what they actually want to do themselves.  If you think about the goals that you have set, are they 100% yours?  How much influence are those around you having?  It’s ok to have goals that serve others. However, for you to really want to achieve your career goals you will need to set goals that are truly what YOU want to do and what YOU care about. 

Set goals that have the end game in sight then plan backwards

Look at your long-term career goal and then start planning out how you will get to that point.  I always suggest working backwards so you can look at the kinds of positions you will need to be working in, the learning and development that will support your experience, and the relationships, coaching and other supports that you will need to help you get there. This way your short-term career goals will have a clear link to your ultimate career goal.   Achieving smaller short-term goals is very motivating and is much easier than trying to achieve a long-term career goal without any planning.  

Write your career goals down, check in on your progress often.

I always suggest writing out your career goals in a career development plan.  This way you can have a clear idea of what your career goals are and also actionable steps to get you there.  Set dates for your goals and actively add these to your task lists throughout the year.  Set reminders and check-in on your progress often.  This might be weekly or monthly, but you definitely want to be checking in on your progress on a regular basis.  Seeing yourself achieve your short-term career goals will help keep you motivated.  Success is contagious and if you are feeling successful then you are likely to achieve the next career goal in your plan. 

Tell your friends, family and manager about your goals.

Keeping yourself accountable is an excellent strategy when it comes to achieving your career goals but you also need to be getting support from others. It’s imperative that you have a strong support network that champions your success.  Having others know about your career goals is going to help you in many ways.  You will have others who know your goals and who can help hold you accountable for reaching them.  You will have a group of people who will be able to help you achieve your career goals. This might be by thinking of you when a job becomes available, sharing a blog or podcast with you that is in line with your career goal or simply introducing you to one of their connections who can help you. 

Keep motivated, even during a period of setbacks

There will be times of set-back (hello covid-19) and that is completely ok.  There is nothing wrong with having a few roadblocks.  Nothing and no-one is perfect and that goes for achieving your career goals as well.  I suggest keeping this in mind when you find yourself in the situation of not achieving one of your goals in the required timeframe.  I always think of setbacks as a time to catch my breath before moving onto achieving the next career goal. It’s not the end.  It might be a change of direction or a slight delay but if you keep your eye on the end goal you will be much more likely to get there.  If you are thinking about starting to set some career goals or if you simply want to update your existing set of career goals please reach out.  We have an excellent career mind-map template that is perfect for getting your career goals out of your head, ready for action. If you’d like a copy of our career mind-map please reach out via

Skye London

Career Coach | Career development | Job Search

Skye London is Co-founder and Lead Career Coach at Y Executive. With a passion for coaching and extensive experience in all things recruitment Skye has developed a reputation as the go to person for help with your career.
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