When defining your goal, it is important to be SMART about it. Specific goals are important; be careful to avoid being general.
In a recent career workshop for military spouses planning their path, one student mentioned that she wanted to get a good job. After asking her to elaborate on the goal, I discovered that she was having family visits and preparing her youngest child to enter kindergarten in the next few months. After re-evaluating her life situation, she changed her immediate goal to conducting research on the local economy, preparing to go back to work and finding suitable child care for her young son as her immediate goal.
The goal must be measurable, quantifiable and observable . Let's use the same example of wanting to find a good job. In order to make this goal a little smarter, you have to break it up into pieces you can chew easily. Exactly what would factors constitute a good job, and what objectives will you meet daily in order to obtain that job within your time frame?
Goals must be agreed upon . Any goals that you set aren't accomplished alone. Take time to pitch your goal to your partner/family so that they buy in and become a part of your team to accomplish what you've set out to do.
Be careful to make your goals realistic . It's important to set attainable goals while keeping in mind that they must also be challenging.
Goals must be timed . One of the most important steps to setting a career goal is attaching timelines. Grab a pencil or pen and your handy datebook, and begin to write dates for your goal. For some, it is easier to work backward. For example, if my first career goal is to complete my education, I am going to pencil in the year that I graduate. Then I'll work backward to figure out exactly how many credits I will need to take each semester to accomplish that. Be sure and factor in expected life changes, like the birth of a new baby or an anticipated PCS.
Determine your long-range goals 5-10 years away, then your mid-range goals in the next 3-5 years. Finally, develop a daily task list that will bring you to your goal.