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How to Set and Achieve Professional Goals

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How to Set and Achieve Professional Goals
If you want to accomplish something instead of drifting aimlessly,you have to set goals. Nowhere is this more relevant than in today's workplace.“Knowing precisely where you're going and that you want to achieve puts you in the driver's seat. It helps you plan for your training and educational needs,” says Frank Arnold, dean and associate professor of management at Saint Leo College in Saint Leo, FL.

Also, goal setting is important in a team–oriented workplace. “You help your work group by ensuring your skills are current,” says Paula deLong, a licensed psychologist and a counselor in the employee assistance program at Thomas Jefferson University in

Goal setting is one of life's most difficult responsibilities–not because goals are so hard to establish, but because you may lack the motivation or courage to ask yourself what you want. Yet setting goals and achieving them can boost your effectiveness, increase your satisfaction in your accomplishments and deepen your self–confidence.

Keys To Success
Keep the following guidelines in mind when setting professional goals:
• Ask yourself what will satisfy you and make you happy. Self–reflection requires you to face your dreams, fears, limitations and obligations to others.

• Identify which skills you're proficient in and consider whether they can be used elsewhere in the organization.

• Get a clear understanding of the skills, information or assistance you'll need to attain your goals.

• Identify the incremental steps and deadlines involved in attaining your goals.

• Set specific goals. Setting goals that are vague or too large can result in frustration and discouragement and cause you to give up.

• Make your goals measurable.

• Set a time limit for achieving your goals, otherwise, you'll never see closure, only a long, pointless grind.

Stay Motivated
To stay motivated, acknowledge your progress and reward yourself
along the way. Congratulate yourself for completing your first semester toward an advanced degree. Praise yourself for being

It's also important to remain flexible and positive. Your goals will change as you refine your career plan or as roadblocks appear
that cause temporary detours.

Professional Development
Mentoring is a term historically used to describe a teacher–student
relationship. In the business world, mentoring occurs when a more experienced professional (the mentor) gives significant career assistance to a less–experienced professional (the protégé).

Networking is an invaluable tool that anyone in the business world can utilize. Effective networking can be your best form of marketing, as well as being extremely affordable. To give a definition of networking, networking occurs when there is a planned event or gathering with the primary goal of connecting with others.

Roundtables are informal group discussions among professional
people who voluntarily serve as information and support resources for each other. Participants meet regularly and learn from each other's experiences.

Staying Informed/ Staying Current
The Information Age has changed our society greatly. It's a fast–paced, wired world, with news flashing around the world almost instantly, e–mail connecting far–flung correspondents all over the globe, and information bombarding us from all sides. We must learn to cultivate our own methods for staying abreast of developments in our particular field – and we must learn to ignore information we can't use.

Five Steps to Being More Important on the Job
Whether you are the boss, the programmer or the assistant's assistant, being more important than you think you are is pleasant to think about.

What's nice about it is that you don't have to get a promotion or get reassigned in order to reach that goal. Even better, the organization would love to have you be indispensable.

That might be the case right now, but to increase your importance even more, consider this advice:

1. Get visible. Small stuff counts, such as face time. Arrive a little early, leave a few minutes later than everyone else, and speak up at a meeting. Big stuff counts more. Volunteer for an assignment no one wants.

2. Be a problem solver. Search for ideas that help the company or the company's clients. When you can help customers or clients, you will be indispensable.

3. Don't complain. If you have in the past, get an attitude adjustment to the positive side now, says Alexandra Levit, author of How'd You Score That Gig: A Guide to the Coolest Jobs and Careers . Your manager has enough problems and you shouldn't
be one of them. Complaining definitely won't make you more important.

4. Give the true information. During difficult times, the boss needs to know the truth about how the business is running. Tell it very carefully.

5. Take a class. Consider an area in which the organization needs help, such as running a “green” business.

In these times, being a faithful employee, though marginal, is not enough. We all have to do more.

Download the PDF on the left to read more!