Career Expert Nicole Williams Talks Setting Professional Goals

In many ways, work goals are financial goals. After all, just about any growth in your career will mostly likely enrich your wallet. But what should you keep in mind when crafting and tracking work-related goals? We asked bestselling author and LinkedIn career expert Nicole Williams for her perspective on when it’s time to create career goals and how to set yourself up for success. 

Lack of Excitement = Time for a Change

Nicole Williams LinkedIn Ally Bank

So how do you know if you need to set up career goals? Williams says it’s when you begin to feel like there’s not much at stake at your current job.

“Nervousness and excitement are signs that you’re about to challenge yourself,” Williams says. “If you aren’t feeling that day in and day out – if you feel bored – it’s time to think about a change. It’s all about finding something that you care about to motivate you out of this state of complacency.”

If you’re not convinced that complacency is a sign you should start thinking about work goals, Williams suggests thinking about the future.

“If you’re feeling like, ‘This is okay, I could live with this,’ think about yourself at 80 years old, talking to your kids and grandkids about your life, she says. “Would you be proud to share this with them? Would it inspire and motivate them?”

Crafting Your Goals

Once you’ve decided that you need to establish career goals, it’s time to figure out what this actually entails. For some people, it could simply mean a different position at their current job. For others, it might mean a transition to a different employer, or even starting their own business.

If your goal involves getting a promotion or raise from your current employer, Williams suggests sitting down with your boss to learn exactly what you need to do to make your goal a reality.

“Share your goals with your boss,” she says. “Your boss can contribute and mold that goal. A conversation with your boss about a promotion or raise can allow you to learn about their decision-making process.”

Whatever you do, MSN Careers warns against being your own worst enemy: Don’t nix possible goals because you think you can’t achieve them, the site advises. Instead, it suggests focusing on your talents to see how they can feed your goals.

Williams says that if a goal feels too big, take steps to make it a size you can handle.

“Break it down into bite-size pieces that allow you to get a sense of momentum and build,” she says. “Look at the phases that are actually going to get you there. Think about what you need to do first, second and third.”

Williams also suggests pairing your job goals with non-workplace goals to create a perfect storm of achievement.

“Sometimes a goal outside the career realm can help to inspire and motivate you, as well as increase your sense of confidence,” Williams says. “Sometimes tying another goal to your workplace goal can help you stay motivated.” Williams says that a physical goal like running a marathon, or even something more basic, like cleaning out a closet, can put you in a mind frame of success.

Don’t Give Up!

Goals take time to achieve – and yes, sometimes we don’t quite reach them. If this is the case, be prepared to have a frank conversation with yourself.

“I think there needs to be an honest assessment as to why you didn’t reach your goal,” Williams says. “I see a lot of self-sabotage – a lot of people not putting in the work that’s required.”

Williams says that one way to get your career goals back on track is to focus on what she refers to as The Why.

“Why do you want this?” she says. “The deeper your ‘Why,’ the better. What is required? How is [your goal] contributing to others, namely your customers and clients?”

Williams also suggests measuring how much you’re actually putting in your goals. She recalls working with a woman who claimed to be putting in dozens and dozens of hours each week toward a goal. But once she actually started logging in her time, she realized that number of hours turned out to be far less than she thought.

“Since a goal is attached to discipline, we tend to overestimate how much time we’re spending on the goal,” Williams explains. “If you find yourself stuck, go back and measure how much time you’re spending on accomplishing it.”

How do you go about crafting career goals? Do you have specific work-related goals for the remainder of the year?

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1 comment

  1. 1

    If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:


    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    A Vision Wall (inspiring images attached to yor goals) is available too.

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