Set career goals that will make you you love your job.

How often have you sat down to establish a list of career goals only to find out later that they were about as (un)realistic as your New Year’s resolutions? You wanted to have a six-figure salary by the fifth year into your career. You wanted a corner office. Maybe you even thought it would be possible to increase sales by 20 percent without taking a good look at the economy during that period.

Personal career goals are important and can help develop your career. However, the trick is to establish goals that help you focus in on the things that truly matter. These things may seem simple, but far too often they are overlooked. Here are five examples of career goals that will help you succeed in and out of the office.

Love your work.

Life is too short to live in misery. If you get up every day and dread the thought of going to work, you need to do something about it. Is it your field that you dislike or your company or even just one manager? Once you can pinpoint the problem, you can start looking for a solution.

If you like your job, but don’t love it, try to figure out what’s missing. It’s probably not time for a complete career change — you just need to stop and assess what you like and don’t like about your current job. Is there something missing? A small shift in focus may be all it takes to make you passionate about the work you do again.

You may not believe it, but there are people out there who truly love their jobs. If you’re not sure if you’ve found your calling, take a career test and see where you really fit. There’s no reason you can’t find your dream job Click on the following link for more signs it’s time to find a new job.

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What is your salary happiness level?

When you think about personal career goals that truly matter, you don’t want to make it all about money. That being said, money makes a difference. Here’s the hard part — you need to figure out what your number really is for genuine happiness. Perhaps you’ve always had the $100,000 mark in your head. In reality, only about 20 percent of American households break the six figure mark. That’s households, not individuals. So if $100K per year is more of a dream figure, how do you determine a realistic salary career goal that will ensure your happiness?

Simple. Add up your estimated annual bills. Include everything from phone plans to house payments to insurance premiums. Don’t forget to think about retirement and taxes. Now think about how much extra you would like to have each month for the fun stuff like vacations, dining out, and the occasional night on the town. Multiply that times 12, add it to your annual bills, and there you have it. It's a simplistic look at finances, but it can give you an idea of where your salary really need to be. There are plenty of resources out there if you want to look at your finances a little more in depth.

Would you like to make more than that? Of course! But sometimes simply understanding what you need versus what you think you need can take some of the pressure off.

Continuing education.

If you are perfectly happy doing what you do and keeping the status quo, then you may happily jump to the next section. For most people, though, it’s important to keep feeling like you’re moving forward. One of the best ways to do that is to keep educating yourself in some way to ensure career development.

If you have weaknesses in your job or on your CV, a continuing education course to bring you up to speed may be just what you need. If you are set at work but have always wanted to take a Russian literature class, do it!

You don’t have to dedicate yourself to a new degree or even a class if you don’t want. There are great professional development books out there to help you boost your career. Learning stimulates the mind and encourages both intellectual and emotional growth. Simply put, continuous learning is a goal that leads to improved happiness.

Work-life balance.

This one can be a very tough one. How do you get ahead at work without burying yourself in your job day in and day out?

If you want to throw yourself into your work and you don’t have friends or family clamoring for more of your time, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy. However, when too much time buried in work starts to take a toll on your loved ones or even your own peace of mind, it’s time to make a change. You don’t want to burn yourself out. If your current company won’t let you cut back, it may be time to find another one that is less demanding and values a work-life balance.

Retirement.

It’s really hard for most people to think about retirement. It may seem like it’s so far away that it just doesn’t matter right now. However, it will matter, and in a big way. The reality of the situation is that you won’t be truly happy in your current job if you are always worrying about the future in the back (or the front) of your mind.

The simplest and best way to really get a firm grasp on retirement is to see a financial professional who can help you plot out a road map to build your retirement funds. Or, if you prefer, you can try to do it yourself online. You’ll have to think about what age you want to be when you retire, how much you want to have to live on at that point, and how much you can afford to start putting towards that goal right now. Banking on Social Security is no longer an option, so it pays to get a retirement plan in place. You’ll be happier for having that long-term career goal set.

We all set career goals. Sometimes it’s too easy to let relatively insignificant or unrealistic goals cloud our judgment when we assess our careers. So you didn’t make the sales number you had set for yourself or you still don’t have that corner office. Before any goals like those really matter, you need to take the time to sit down and determine  some long-term career goals that will set you up for long-term happiness. If you are married and have a family, bring them into the conversation, too.

Finding work you love, understanding your financial needs both now and in retirement, continued learning, and finding that work-life balance are true goals. Once you have those in place, you’ll be in a position to make the most of your career and your life.

Click on the following link for more advice on setting goals.

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