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Set smart goal-setting strategies

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Setting goals is an essential step toward getting where you want to go in your career. But how do you choose the right goals and timelines for achieving them?

That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum:

“I had an idea that I would set myself a target date for becoming the manager of my department exactly five years from now, and work to make that goal happen as hard as I can. I definitely have a few promotion levels to achieve before I get there, so do you think it’s wise to set such an ambitious goal with such a specific timeline, or am I setting myself up for a possible disappointment that might be even tougher to recover from if I don’t make it?” — Mel, property processing clerk

We reached out to a few experts to get their best advice on the issue.

Concrete steps from goal to goal can help keep you on track. Others in your organization can give you a reality check on your timeline and help you tweak it. Leadership coach Cheryl Rice recommends finding someone in your organization who has taken the path you’d like to follow and ask them to mentor you. “Take them out to lunch to conduct an information interview and gain their perspective on their own career ascension, ask them how they succeeded, and how you can too.”

Be realistic about your own abilities and what you need to learn, says Dele Lowman Smith, a corporate coach. “Take inventory of your own knowledge, skills and experience and identify any gaps you need to fill as well as ways you can give yourself a competitive edge over others seeking the same position.” This may mean you need to continue your education, volunteer for more training or look for other ways to develop yourself.

As you put your career plan in motion, don’t forget to keep a record of your accomplishments and results. Doing so will put you in a stronger position to take the next step when it’s time to advance, says Michelle Riklan, an organizational development and career management consultant. Keeping a “brag book” is useful because you’ll always be able to recall your achievements and showcase your value.

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