For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Goal Setting in 6 Steps

Posted on July 19, 2022
Image of a paved straight road with the word START painted on it. There is a blue sky and mountains in the background.

As you scroll through LinkedIn, it is very likely about half of the posts are dedicated to people in your network announcing a new position or a promotion. Whether you just earned a promotion or took on a new role within your current employer or you are moving to a new company, now is a great time to do some goal setting!

Goal setting is something you should do annually, and I am not referring to the goals your employer might expect – though your personal and career goals might align with those you create for your employer. To begin, you need to reflect on where you are today. Be honest about your current set of skills, otherwise you cannot move forward with new goals.

I am one of those people who like to work backwards, so I recommend starting with the overarching, larger goals and then develop your short-term goals as steppingstones toward the longer-term ones.

Step One: Begin with where you want to be in 10 years. You might have a title in mind, such as CEO, tenured professor, or even retired. Envision yourself in that role.

Step Two: Based on where you are today, what are the logical career steps to get there. If you are an Associate, then you have multiple steps to become a CEO. You want to retire, but your calculations tell you, you need to save a minimum of $100K more to achieve your desired monthly income.

Step Three: Make a list of the skills, experience, or resources you need to achieve your larger goal. This list might include elements of all three, such as better negotiation skills, more leadership experience, and funds to return to school. For each of the items in the three columns, categorize them by ease of attainment. For example, it might be easy to take an online course in negotiation or purchase a book about influencing others, whereas, gaining leadership experience will require more effort and time. You might consider ranking these on a scale of 1-3 with one being easy to achieve and three being more difficult.

Step Four: After you have ranked the skills, experience, and resources, you can list all the ones you ranked “1” into your short-term goals (keep in mind, it is not realistic if you have 10 items ranked 1). Look at these ones and perhaps a couple of the twos and determine how you can achieve them over the next 3-to-6 months.

Step Five: The rest of the twos become your intermediate goals – ones you should be able to complete in the next 6-to-18 months.

Step 6: Develop you own means of assessing your progress and keep in mind that as you deepen your skill set, experience, and even your resources, you will likely see additional areas for growth needed to achieve your ultimate goal. Also, be open to the unexpected doors that may open along the way, sometimes they lead to amazing opportunities. Goal setting is a tool we should all use. We should review those goals on an annual basis and be open to revision and shifting as needed. Not only will it help you achieve your goals, but you are also more likely to achieve them earlier.

Best of luck!

Anne Converse Willkomm
Associate Dean, Graduate College
Associate Teaching Professor, Dept. of Communications, College of Arts & Sciences
Drexel University

Posted in professional-development-career-tips