Career Goals: 3 Mistakes to Avoid and 3 Things to Do to Get You Going Strong

Career Goal SettingNew Years’ resolutions or goal setting is a great thing to do. This more often happens when we contemplate what is ahead for the coming year. Of course, we have the cynical crowd that doesn’t do them, either because they don’t execute on their goals anyway or they just didn’t get around to figuring them out at all.

Are you one of them?

There are some mistakes people make when identifying their career goals that you can avoid.  By avoiding these mistakes, you really set yourself up to achieve your goals.

Isn’t that the point?

Avoid #1:  Too many goals.  You heard that right.  A big problem some people have is that they identify far too many career goals.  Too many goals can cause you to overwhelm yourself, which can lead to stress or even stop you dead in your tracks.  Minimally, you set up a situation of not being able to accomplish all that you have identified, which reinforces a sense of failure.

Avoid #2:  Not meaningful or resonant.  Have you ever taken a goal because you “should”?  Not good.  The issue with identifying a goal that holds no “pull” for you is that you won’t be motivated to really pursue it.  Again, you risk failure simply because you took a goal that you’re not driven to do.

Avoid #3: No outcome.  When you identify a career goal, you need to have a result or outcome attached to it.  An example is choosing to learn Excel. You don’t want to do it because it sounds like a good idea; you want to learn Excel so you can begin producing “X” report using Excel.

As you can see, it isn’t that hard to avoid these ‘mistakes’ when developing your goals.  At the same time, consider these ‘things to do’ that will further enhance your career goals and really set a great course for you.

Thing To Do #1:  Put dates on your goals.  When you put a “due date” on your goal, it will help you get it done.  Dates form a healthy tension, which will keep you attuned to your actions.  It also helps you avoid goals being “open ended,” which means you might never get them done.

Thing To Do #2:  Keep updating your goals.  Goals are living organisms just like you.  For them to do you the greatest good, they require your ongoing care and feeding.  When you mark off one goal as completed, you want to check for the next goal to work on. As current goals are accomplished, you can add additional ones out in time.

Thing To Do #3:  Get someone to hold you accountable.  We all seem to have the mistaken impression that we can get things done on our own.  That is true sometimes.  Most of the time, however, we need to be held accountable to accomplish things. There are several ways for you to ensure accountability for your career goals.  You can consider enrolling your boss (it’s part of his job), a mentor, a trusted work peer or a coach.  I wouldn’t suggest a spouse or significant other, as it might not work well for your goals or relationship.  Get over the idea you need to go-it-alone.

Career goals are great as they represent you spending some thought-time on where you are heading.  They will help ensure you get what you want now and in the future.  If you haven’t created your goals, you don’t have to wait until the New Year – start now.

Creating your career goals is one of many tools to success in your career.  If you’d like to learn about other tools to support your career, you can gain FREE access to my newsletter, which offer great career advice, insight and information.  When you sign up you will also receive the eworkbook “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” full of exercises, quizzes and guidance to make your job even better.  Click here to get both:

This information is brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, your passionate career success champion at

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services at Next Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

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  1. I’ve been guilty of setting too many goals, and up until about two months ago, I’d always considered it a good thing. Except that I wasn’t meeting a few of them and then I’d feel depressed and get anxious. Even worse, I’d compare myself to others who seemed to be doing way more. I think when you work for yourself at home you feel like you should be doing SO much more than everyone else all the time. You made some great points, and I especially agree with the one about setting too many goals. I’ve drastically cut mine down and feel a lot less stressed, and better about myself when I reach them. :)

  2. Hi Melanie, I completely understand. As a business owner, you always have a bigger appetite than your ability to ever complete the things you want to do. The beauty of prioritizing your goals, is it forces you to truly think about the high impact things. When you do, it makes a biggest difference and the other things will either go away or wait for you!

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