The importance of setting career goals

Written by: CABA
Published on: 22 Apr 2019

If you ask someone exactly what position they aspire to, most would be able to give you a strong, big-picture answer. Ask how they plan to do this and the cracks begin to show. Having a vision of where you want to end up is important, but of equal value is plotting a path to get there. 

Investing time and effort into understanding how you can live your impossible dream will be less daunting if planned out. Here are 3 tips on how to become what you dream about. 

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail 

Break down what you want to be and how you're going to get there into 5, 10 or 15 year plans. With this in mind, the pathway becomes clearer. Review yourself against these goals periodically, by breaking them down further. For example, if I want to be a senior manager at my workplace within five years, what extra responsibilities am I going to have to take on this year in order to achieve that? Will I need more qualifications? Do I need to start contributing more to the company outside of my job role? This forward-thinking mentality is an essential condition to achieving your goals. 

Emblazon these goals in a prominent place. Make this a part of your every-day thinking. It can't be something you have to periodically reset your mind on, it needs to be a mindset. 

Art begins in imitation, but ends in innovation 

Whilst there are many well-worn paths in the career world, for the loftiest goals the pathway may not be so clear-cut. How exactly does one become a CEO of a FTSE 100 company, or a politician or a producer? Goals of this magnitude can seem so unattainable, that one immediately rejects the thought. But it is possible. We know it is possible, because people have done it before. 

So, research the paths that other people have taken, listing common themes and exhibited traits, in order to plan your own route. This route may be more treacherous than other orthodox ambitions, but if it wasn't then everybody would do it. You're trying to do something special. Learn from other people's successes and mistakes and take a few risks! 

Opportunity + Preparation = Luck 

Top sportspeople work on their strengths until they become second nature and their weaknesses until they become strengths. But for a businessperson, how to work on your fear of public speaking may be a little less obvious than how to sort out that backhand. So take advantage of opportunities that come your way, to step out of your comfort zone, because that brings growth. If opportunities aren't readily available, don't blame a set of circumstances; go and carve them out yourself. 

You don't know what will come up in an exam, which is why you prepare for all eventualities. To a far greater extent you have no idea what situations life will throw you into and you can't rewind and revise your leadership, when someone asks you to lead a team for the first time. So make a list of the things you aren't so good at and work on them, day by day. So when that exam question comes up in life, you will feel lucky, because you are prepared! 

The most important thing is once you achieve your goal to enjoy the sense of contentment that comes with it. This will come if you have worked towards something that you have always felt personally invested in. So when starting out on your goal-setting journey, don't start with what. Start with why! 

Written by: Vincent Egunlae 

Vincent Egunlae is a part-qualified ICAEW accountant, currently working in Human Capital and Consumer Audit at Grant Thornton. Vincent is also the co-founder of Grant Thornton's first BAME network and a director at the Chartered Accountants Student Society for London, a non-profit organisation who aims to improve the technical ability, career progression, social physical and mental wellbeing of the community of student chartered accountants in London. Vincent is passionate about driving diversity and inclusion within his firm and the wider profession.