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Senior Correspondent

I often advise my clients to “begin with the end in mind” when they are starting their job search. If you begin your search efforts with a defined goal, you can design your path with that ultimate destination in mind. You will be able to envision the steps that are necessary and be able to make any course corrections as you proceed.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand but in what direction we are moving," while the Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the purpose or ultimate goal of any change can be reached through conscientious actions.

Consistently successful goal-setting involves skill. It is not accidental. It is necessary to decide not only what you want to accomplish but also to develop a step-by-step action plan that will move you toward the achievement of your goal.

The following criteria can help as you set your job search goals. Ask yourself, “Are my goals …”

– Specific? What exactly do you want to accomplish and why?
– Measurable? How will you evaluate the extent to which the goal has been met?
– Attainable? Is it within your capabilities or is it a realistic stretch?
– Relevant? How does the goal align with your objectives? Are you willing and able to work toward its attainment?
– Time-targeted? What is the time frame for achieving the goal? Timelines and deadlines help you focus your efforts and prioritize what action steps are needed to realize your goal.

In addition, by asking yourself the following questions you can decide if the goal is worthwhile:

– Is the goal consistent with my overall plan?
– Am I willing to develop a specific timetable to measure my progress toward the goal?
– Can I visualize this goal clearly and see myself at the endpoint it represents?
– Am I ready to make a commitment to the goal now?
– Does commitment to this goal assume a high priority?

After answering these questions, concentrate on breaking your large-scale goal into smaller, more manageable actions. Think about the benefit you will derive from reaching your goal and the obstacles you might have to overcome along the way. Devise a plan that will help you identify the resources you will need and, most importantly, set specific dates for completion of each step. 

A workable, realistic plan to reach your goal diminishes stress by giving you control over the situation. Clarifying the desired result before you set out on your job search journey will make the process of reaching your goal more direct.  

Setting goals with the end in mind will make the impossible seem possible. It will give you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It will enable you to feel mastery over the present circumstances, and it will give you a destination map to follow toward a successful outcome.

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