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A major complaint among working professionals these days is that despite working hard and making sure all the tasks are knocked off their to-do lists, they still are not progressing in their careers. A reason behind their lack of success might be that they have not identified proper goals for themselves.

In a survey conducted by Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, setting the right goals was identified as the most significant factor behind success in the corporate world.

Listed below are five tips that can help in setting goals that work:

Be Specific. A goal to become the CEO of a company is not only vague, it aims too high and doesn’t help in telling you how to achieve it. Instead, try defining a specific project or result that would make your case for a promotion stronger and outline the steps you need to take to achieve it.

Aim to Motivate. Goals should never be anything less than being wildly-inspiring. If a goal doesn’t provide you with the level of inspiration to give you goose bumps when you think about it, it is not going to give you the motivation you need to pursue it – and motivation is key to achieving any goal.

Set a Deadline. As the saying goes, “A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” Keep your deadlines challenging but make sure they are not unrealistic or you will risk de-motivating yourself.

Build a Support Network. Sometimes the going can get tough; in situations like these you need to have people who will encourage you in your ambitions. Communicate your goals to family members, friends, colleagues or even a mentor, who will give you the encouragement you need to get past any hurdles.

Stay Focused. The only way to achieve outstanding results instead of mediocre success is to devote complete attention and energy towards what is most essential. Pick only those goals that are most essential and will provide the biggest value towards your career and stay focused on them.

– Zeeshan Lakhpaty
The writer is a professional corporate trainer. zeeshan@peopleexcellence.biz

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 16, 2012.