Sometimes the questions that seem easiest on the surface end up being the most difficult to answer. “What are your goals?” ranks high among them!

Setting goals might be daunting, but it can also be exciting to look into the horizon. It’s a time to think, and it’s a time where you might really be able to change something in your life for the better. How often do you get the opportunity to sit back and think about taking control?

We recommend that everyone sets goals, even if they’re happy with their current situation. Let’s say you have a good job, you like the people you work with, you enjoy your work – on the surface this might seem the ideal scenario. But if you don’t work to develop your career, sooner or later that way of working will become stale.

(Psst! This is part of a series we’re running on the GROW Method. Want to know what GROW is? Read our article all about it here!) 

1. Give yourself enough time to think

Know that, when you’re setting goals, you have options. This isn’t always going to be as drastic as looking for a new job! Instead, your goal might be to find out what you need to move you forward. Don’t think too much about the process at this stage. At this point in the GROW Method, you should really only be thinking about what you want. If you clog up your thoughts with the “how”, then you’ve denied this part your full attention. And there’s a reason why this is one of just four steps – it’s essential!

By thinking carefully about what you want, and setting aside time to do it, you’re laying strong foundations for the rest of the GROW method.

2. Be prepared for a lot of change

Your goals will have butterfly effects. Change one thing, and it may end up affecting other goals and your work-life balance. Think back to a time in the past – an important work event, a difficult project – and now one change one thing about it. Maybe you didn’t go to the work event at all, or you decided to take longer on the project because you wanted to do more research. How would these decisions have changed other milestones later on? Now apply this approach to the ideas you have for your goals.

3. Be prepared for the unexpected

It makes sense to think ahead, but life isn’t always consistent. The best way to stay prepared is to stay mindful that there are simply ‘unknowables’ out there. Write down what you want, and keep these notes safe and present in your mind, but let go of the idea that they have to be set in stone.

4. Balance your short-term and long-term goals

No, taking baby steps is not what you want to hear when you’ve got a really great goal in mind, but it’s crucial that you give yourself time to breathe. Add some stepping stones and keep your motivation levels high with short-term goals. If your goal is to become Head of Communications but you’re a Junior Marketing Officer, think about the steps along the way. This might be attending conferences annually, which may lead to presenting at them or improving your network, which may lead to moving to a mid-career position that addresses any skills gaps, before you can reach for your end-goal. Take it steady, do the training, and break your goals into SMART components.

5. Ask the right people if your goals are achievable

Be open to discussing it someone who has your best interests at heart. This might be different depending on the goal(!) so consider work colleagues and recruiters as well as friends and family members. Air your idea and gauge responses. The people from whom you seek counsel may have other agendas, so a career coach can be a non-judgemental and a knowledgeable aide to help you steer your course to success.


Our job at Aldrich & Co is to listen and advise. More than ever, we see our candidates want to build a career that works around their life. We can help: Call us or write us an email to see what we can do to fulfil your career aspirations