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How to Outline Your Career Goals and Objectives

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Accepting change is a crucial element of succeeding in today's work world, where multiple transitions are commonplace. Developing a short- and long-term blueprint for achieving your career goals and objectives is an equally non-negotiable part of staying on track professionally. Itemizing your current career path's pros and cons now will save plenty of frustration later, especially if your skills aren't in demand -- or if you don't feel passionate about them anymore.

Assess Your Situation Regularly

Approach career planning as an ongoing commitment, not something you're forced to do when a job turns sour. Quintessential Careers founder Dr. Randall S. Hansen recommends taking one day or weekend every year to evaluate your career. Create a two-column list of likes and dislikes about your current job. If the latter column outweighs the former, consider some new directions. For example, the French artist Paul Gauguin was a businessman who painted in his spare time -- until an artist he admired encouraged him to follow his passion.

Be Adaptable and Realistic

Rewrite your plan when conditions require it. Even if you've taken a transitional job to pay bills, capitalize on the experience for planning purposes. Keep a journal or list of the skills and contacts you're developing now, and compare them to the jobs you want. For example, if you're a telemarketer, you've mastered the ability of communicating a persuasive message to all types of people -- which is a skill that many employers desire. However, the connection might not be obvious if you don't work it out on paper first.

Document Your Current Progress

Record notable activities on your present job. List the major projects that you've undertaken, plus significant professional development activities or training sessions you've attended. File away evaluations and letters or emails about your performance, too, then pull out these materials when you rewrite your short- or long-term career plan. You'll likely identify qualities that need further development or serve as inspiration for your next career change.

Identify Transferable Skills

Draft a separate five-year plan for how you'll develop transferable skills like interpersonal communication, innovation, leadership and stress management. Choose two skills to improve every year. For example, a media professional might pinpoint new blogging techniques and Web conferencing as two skills to learn for staying relevant in the marketplace. Taking this approach lessens the risk of your skills becoming obsolete, which makes career transitions harder to pull off.

Maintain a Long-Term Outlook

Consider how goals and objectives change over time. As of January 2014, the median tenure for staying with a current employer was 4.6 years, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, other opportunities take longer to achieve in fields like health care, where there are about 100,000 executive leadership positions that typically require 10 to 15 years of related experience, according to the B.E. Smith consulting firm's website. You must address these factors in your goals and objectives.


Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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