5 Things to Focus on When Establishing Your Career Goals

Twenty-somethings have been endlessly reminded that the chapter of our twenties is coined the “defining decade.” Whether we are dubbed pre-adults, emerging adults, millennials, or the lost decade, the message remains the same: our twenties are a critical stretch of time in which we must build, modify, and fulfill our foundational goals to shape ourselves a brighter future.

When we first consider establishing goals some of the initial thoughts that come to mind include graduating college, perhaps moving onto graduate school, intertwining our lives with a partner in a mature and intimate relationship, and/or taking the plunge of transitioning from our childhood home to our own independent living quarters. These short-term goals likely occur in stages, taking place slowly as we chip away at them until these objectives come to fruition.

Much like education, relationships, and independence, establishing career goals is incredibly significant in setting ourselves up for a successful future. Twenty-somethings often realize that career takes up most of their adult scope when recognizing that the average employed American spends more than half of their waking hours working each day. This implies that our career accounts for a considerably large portion of our lives and time.

With such a strong emphasis on working in our society, finding the ideal job and creating career goals unique to us becomes prevalent during our twenties. We must identify what career goals fit us as individuals, where we envision our career path leading us, and how we can realistically work toward our career goals.

Consider these conceptual ambitions and operational goals to help establish your career objectives:

Begin by having a vision.

The best place to start is by identifying what type of role you can imagine yourself working in. What was your concentration of study in college? What previous work experiences have you thoroughly enjoyed and could imagine pursuing in adulthood? What are your skills, talents, and abilities?

Deciphering where you see yourself being the most productive and truly thriving will help identify the job title you seek.

Start experimenting before you are ready to commit.

Getting a sizable head start on establishing your career can do nothing but good for you. Starting early allows you to gain insightful perspective, develop and further your skill set, and experiment jobs in a trial and error mode. By exploring professions and skills early on you are giving yourself time to learn, grow, and take risks by trying out professions outside of your comfort zone to see where your career boundaries lie.

Define your values.

What is important to you? What are your engrained beliefs and morals? How do you want to be remembered? What is your legacy?

These are questions twenty-somethings should mull over when exploring their value systems. By having concrete beliefs and morals it is easier to establish career goals for yourself. You are able to follow your ethics truthfully and allow them to guide you into the right career or implement them as your foundation in a career you already feel drawn to.

Know your happiness.

It may sound broad or even a bit insignificant, but we twenty-somethings need to understand the root difference between our happiness and what the world promises will make us happy.

Is it working the 9-5 grind? Is it chasing the vertical ladder of upward mobility to become a Fortune 500 Company CEO? Or is it having a stable income while bearing a family and balancing enough time to pursue hobbies instead?

Only you know your true happiness. By defining what makes you happy, you know where your career boundaries lie.

These things take time.

Please remember to be patient. Things do not happen overnight, especially in the manner of pushing through the grunt work to achieve that well-deserved promotion. You may have to spend the early stages of you career biting back curse words and getting dumped on with ridiculously trivial assignments before anyone takes you seriously. Trust me, though, this is all part of the journey. If your chosen career path inspires you to chase a high-status job, you have to start somewhere and somewhere may very well be the bottom of the totem pole.

The most important aspect of establishing career goals is to start making them. Write down what you want to achieve in your career to have a visual of the work life you are mapping out for yourself. These objectives can be as broad or defined as you make them.

For some, having a job they look forward to everyday is ideal, while others constantly need to be challenged. Whichever route suits you, remember to identify your career goals and follow them through. The hardest part is deciding what you want. The rest is the journey of everything falling into place.