Defining professional objectives is a way to chart the course of your career path and give you focused goals. The process encourages you to examine your personal and professional aspirations and make achievable plans for how to go about making your way in the business world.
Decide What's Important
Career objectives are different for everyone. Some people have financial objectives while others aim for self-fulfillment or a stable work-life balance. Before you define your objectives, assess what’s of value to you. Do you want to earn a high income and retire early, find a job that lets you travel, or ultimately run your own business? Decide where you ultimately see yourself and plan the steps you need to take to get there.
Assess What You Need
Take stock of your skills and abilities and decide what new ones you need to acquire to achieve your career objectives. If you want to practice law, and you don't have a law degree, studying for the LSAT and researching law schools will be primary steps toward achieving your objective. Make a list of what needs to happen for you to realize success. It might mean a degree, a move to a particular part of the country, a certain amount of cash reserves for technical training or exploring job shadowing opportunities.
Develop a Timeline
Develop a timeline to help you set long-term goals from which you can select short-term steps to put you on the right path. If you want to reach a certain position in your industry by a certain age, start with that and work backward to determine the steps you need to take. If, say, you want to be in a management position in 10 years, and most management positions in your industry require at least eight years of experience, you have two years to begin professionally positioning yourself to start working your way up the corporate ladder.
Set Short-Term Goals
Based on your long-term objectives, set short-term actionable goals that will help you take action. Enroll in a continuing education program, talk to your supervisor about taking on additional responsibilities, or join a professional association and network with other people in your industry. Write everything down and give yourself a deadline for completing each task, to keep you focused and on track.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.