How To Create a Career Goal-Setting Worksheet (And Template)

Knowing where to spend your efforts in life is tough – I hear many in their thirties, forties and fifties saying, “I’m still trying to work out what I want to do when I grow up.” Career goal setting can be the reason why one person loves their work and moves forward in their career and the other finds their work stressful and lacking purpose.

Unlocking your values – the drivers that lie at the core of your life preferences is critical. Without knowing and accepting these as part of your makeup and therefore integrating these values into your work life, the decision to get up and go to work becomes more and more difficult as we become more and more distanced from the reason we are doing the work at all.

Download our free Values clarification Template. Take your time on it and review where you stand from time to time. To say your life depends on it sounds melodramatic but in a sense it is true. Not knowing where you are going starts with not matching your future to the things you care about.

How to Set Your Career Goals

Examples of goal-setting worksheets

Here are some examples of goal-setting worksheets you can use:

Worksheet for goal execution

A goal-execution worksheet allows you to create a plan for meeting your goals once you identify them. This document can help you address several goals and take into consideration all of the people and resources they may require. This worksheet can include multiple goals and a list of steps that allows you to outline the steps you can take to meet and obtain them.

These steps may include valuable information related to the processes involved in meeting your goal, including budgets, professional responsible for different tasks and start and end dates. You can use this worksheet by tracking the stages of goal execution and managing your progress as you address each step of the process.

SMART goal identification worksheet

A SMART goal identification worksheet encourages you to use the SMART technique, which focuses on specificity, measurability, achievability, relevancy and time lines. This means that you can use it to set a specific aim, consider the measurements involved in this goal, review whether you can achieve it, ensure that its relevant and impactful to your career and track the progress within a specific timeline.

This worksheet prompts you to consider a single goal, highlight why its important to you and identify potential issues that may arise and prevent you from achieving it. You can also outline the steps or actions that you can take to work towards this objective, and set a goal deadline to keep yourself motivated and accountable. You may also fill in who is responsible for executing these tasks and when theyre completed to evaluate your progress and identify how close you are to meeting your goal.

Straightforward goal-setting worksheet

A straightforward, or simple, goal-setting worksheet allows you to outline your objective in one or two sentences, review your deadline and list the steps you can complete to reach this milestone. A straightforward goal-setting worksheet also allows you to identify challenges that may arise throughout the process and plan for these circumstances.

This can help ensure that youre not setback by obstacles, and that you can prepare for challenges that you may encounter and still stay focused on achieving a particular accomplishment or aim. This document can also include people or resources that may help you reach your goal, so you can review the opportunities that are available before beginning your pursuit.

Why is it important to record your career goals?

Its important to record your career goals because it can help you focus on your aspirations and ensure that your current efforts contribute towards achieving these milestones. Whether youre setting short-term or long-term goals, this practice can help you establish what you hope to achieve and create a plan of action. Writing down your goals and referencing them frequently may increase the likelihood that you attain them, and allow you to prioritize your actions and tasks according to your professional aspirations. You may find goal-setting to be motivating and help you feel as if your day-to-day actions contribute to a greater purpose.

How to create a career goals worksheet

Heres a list of steps you can follow to create a career goals worksheet:

1. Ask yourself questions about your profession and career overall

You can begin the process of creating a goal-setting worksheet by asking yourself a variety of open-ended questions that help you consider your current role and your career. Consider work environments you prefer, what youve enjoyed in previous roles and management styles that motivate and support you. You can also ask yourself which companies or roles sound interesting to you, and which dont, and then consider why you may prefer certain organization or positions.

This information can provide you the valuable insights related to creating goals you can commit to and pursue. Understanding your professional habits and preferences can help you identify positions you can apply for or companies that offer valuable opportunities depending on your interests and requirements.

2. Consult professionals within your network and online resources

In addition to considering your internal opinions, you may also benefit from seeking the input and guidance of professionals within your network or information featured on professional online resources. This can help you gather additional information from industry experts regarding your professional interests, and you can use this research to help you identify and set realistic and achievable goals for yourself.

Consulting with professionals can help you understand whether you have the skills, experience and resources necessary to achieve long-term milestones youre interested in, and can help you set short-term goals based on this information. For example, if youre interested in becoming an architect, consider reflecting on whether you have the training and technical abilities for this role. If you dont you can make acquiring these credentials and skills part of your goal-setting worksheet.

3. Create a document

After considering both internal and external perspectives, you can begin to create your goal-setting document and start identifying key components of this worksheet. There are a variety of ways you can organize this document, so consider your interests, industry and the ideal outcomes you may strive for and pursue. Integrate this information into the worksheet so you can set yourself up for your unique aspirations. A career goals worksheet can be a useful tool in identifying various types of training and certification, pursuing skill development and altering your career path.

4. List the skills you hope to improve or develop

Skill acquisition and development may be an integral aspect of your professional growth, so consider listing this information on your career goals worksheet. There may be a variety of soft, hard and industry-related skills that can contribute to your success and improve your performance. If you know that you have competencies you can improve upon or advance, consider adding them to the worksheet.

Alternatively, there may be various skills that you have not yet acquired that can benefit your overall performance or make you eligible for prospective opportunities. Listing these competencies on this worksheet can help you understand the short-term goals that may allow you to meet greater long-term goals in the future.

5. Add promotions or new roles that you hope to earn

In addition to skills youre interested in, add any promotions you hope to earn, rewards you want to receive or positions you can pursue. If youre interested in professional growth within your current industry, you may aspire to receive a managerial or leadership position.

Alternatively, if you plan to apply for roles in a new industry or market, you can list these goals on the worksheet and highlight any subsequent aspirations or steps you may take to qualify for this new position. This aspect of the document may include long-term milestones or feature accomplishments that require additional energy, commitment and resources.

6. Check the document frequently and follow up with your goals

Once youve completed the worksheet, check it regularly to ensure that you remember and prioritize your goals. If you attain something you listed on the document, you can cross it off or highlight it to recognize your achievement. Follow up with the aspirations you set for yourself and document your progress throughout your professional journey.

Depending on the goals you set and the time or dedication they require, you can use this worksheet for weeks, months or years. You can also alter this document and may continue to add to it or update it with your desires and intentions you develop throughout your career.

Career goals worksheet template

Heres a template you can use when creating your own career goals worksheet:

[Your name]
[Your professional title or role]

[Clearly identify your objective and outline how and why it may positively impact your career.]

List of steps to take to reach your goal

Potential challenges you may encounter

Resources that can assist you

Start-date and end-date
[Start date] [End date]
[Description of what processes or accomplishment occurs to notify you that youve met your goal]


What are 5 tips for setting career goals?

Career Goals Examples (Short-term & Long-term)
  1. Gain a New Skill. …
  2. Boost Your Networking Abilities. …
  3. Intern with a Large Company to Gain Experience. …
  4. Start Your Own Business. …
  5. Improve Your Sales or Productivity Numbers. …
  6. Earn a Degree or Certification. …
  7. Make a Career Switch. …
  8. Become an Expert in Your Field.

What are some examples of career goals?

Follow these tips to set goals that help you advance in your career and your personal life:
  • Pick goals you’re passionate about. …
  • Make sure your goals are achievable. …
  • Be specific with your goals. …
  • Write these goals down. …
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal.
  • Tell others about your goals. …
  • Prioritize one goal at a time.

What are some good 5 year career goals?

What are examples of typical career goals?
  • Increase professional knowledge and training. …
  • Increase earnings. …
  • Improve low-functioning work processes or relationships. …
  • Have new experiences. …
  • Attain a leadership role.

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