When was the last time you thought about what you want out of your career? Did you ever think about what skills do you want to improve on and what will those skills help you achieve? What goals are you shooting for and what do you do to get there? Usually, most developers don’t set concrete individual goals for themselves. They wander from job to job, adopting whatever goals their boss or tech lead hands them. This blog entry articulates why is it important for a software engineer to set individual goals and how to tackle planning them.
Every one of us does something unique. We have different jobs, different side-projects, so implicitly, we probably have different goals. Only if we set them. Experienced engineers have probably already figured out how important it is to set some kind of direction when it comes to professional development. More junior software developers don’t usually think about this since they are too enthusiastic to ship as many things as possible.
You don’t want your work to be aimless. You’re not hopping in your car without knowing where you’d like to go. Why treat your career with lower responsibility? Your software engineering career needs a destination.
Setting goals will give you clear direction and much focus. You’ll find yourself procrastinating less and spending more time toward accomplishing your dreams. Having clearly defined goals will also make it easy to evaluate yourself and your progress (both as an engineer as well as a human being). Your results will be quantifiable all of a sudden and will serve as a benchmark for your personal improvement. The clarity of knowing for sure whether your career growth is on the right track will prove to be invaluable. I promise.
In addition to that, having clearly defined goals will keep you motivated, will make you work harder towards delivering your promises and will also provide you with so much personal satisfaction when they are met.
Also, don’t just think about what you’re aiming for. Write it down. Make sure you keep yourself accountable for reaching those objectives. Revise your goals periodically and update your list whenever you feel like it’s the right decision. You get wiser and better over time, so don’t stick to the initial plans – they might not make sense anymore.
It’s also important to shoot for the moon. Don’t settle for individual goals that are trivial to achieve. Your objectives will impose an upper-bound on your growth, so make sure the bar is raised as high as possible.
Don’t just wander around, hoping to get lucky. Come up with a plan, create concrete goals and start working hard towards it. Update your list periodically, and at the end, just measure your results precisely and celebrate.