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What Are Your Career Aspirations? Here’s Exactly What to Say

Everyone deserves to love what they do, but that’s challenging to figure out if you don’t have any career aspirations. Take a deep dive into the meaning of career aspirations and how to create them with this extensive article.

What Are Career Aspirations?

Career aspirations are your long-term professional ambitions. They stem from your dreams and passions, so you know exactly which job positions will make you equally fulfilled and happy.

People with career aspirations often choose a profession based on their values, talents, or hobbies. They have a satisfying career because their job includes doing things they love, such as:

  • Helping customers
  • Leading their team members on projects
  • Learning new skills through industry training opportunities
  • Earning certifications to expand their job opportunities
  • Engaging their passions with their daily professional lives

Why Do They Matter to Employers?

People look for new team members who set long-term goals and understand what they want from their careers. It leads to happy employees who stay in their jobs longer while remaining productive because they feel fulfilled.

Career aspirations also reduce the chance of burnout. By aligning your job with things you care about, your productivity won’t suffer from a lack of motivation.

Why Do They Matter to Interviewers?

Recruiters often ask where you see yourself in five years when you sit for an interview. They want to know about your career objectives and aspirations. Your answers will help recruiters understand if your character aligns with their company’s values and the potential for growth within your desired position.

When people have career aspirations, research shows they also have high self-esteem1 and resilience. Those factors create more positive environments by fostering improved teamwork.

Key Quote: Career aspirations are your long-term professional ambitions. They align your job with things you care about.

How to Identify Your Personal Career Aspirations

You may not have answers to career aspirations if you’ve never thought about them. Use these steps to identify your aspirations specifically and chart a better path forward.

Step 1: Think about your meaning

Before meeting with an interviewer, ask yourself the big question—where do you see yourself in five years? Answer this question by listing a few things that make life meaningful. Run through a list of examples, such as:

  • Teaching new skills to other people
  • Leading a group of team members
  • Providing for your family
  • Improving the environment
  • Working toward social justice
  • Changing the world with one of your core values
  • Giving back to your community

Give yourself plenty of time to reflect on what you want and visualize a professional future that excites you. 

Pro Tip: If you’re unsure about your passions, focus on your personal growth to develop your identity and find your calling.

Step 2: Browse long-term career aspirations examples

Your aspirations should double as long-term plans, so check out examples to see how other people define their futures, such as:

  • I plan to learn something new about my industry each year to contribute more effectively.
  • I want to become a leader in my company because I’m passionate about leading people to a shared goal.
  • I desire financial success within my career to provide for my family and live a comfortable life.
  • I want to use my career to help advance society with technology.
  • I will give back to those in need by channeling my marketing efforts into fundraising campaigns.
  • I want to achieve tenure as a professor to get guaranteed job stability.
  • I plan to use my video editing skills to make engaging content in the movie industry.
  • I will use the next five years of dentistry experience to open a private practice and become my own boss.
  • I desire to continue my biology research to find new cures for common diseases and help those in need.
  • I plan on climbing the corporate ladder in my finance advising organization to become CEO and expand on the company’s mission statement to help more clients.

Read the general structure of each statement and note how people put their dreams into words.

Step 3: Reflect on your past work experiences

Unless you’re currently working your first-ever job, your resume likely includes a few previous roles. If you don’t have work experience, think of your past projects. Reflect on them to consider what you enjoyed or disliked about each position.

An excellent job experience might have included productive one-on-one meetings with your manager. They probably pushed you to grow and develop your professional skills. Bad job experiences may have been less enjoyable because you received an overwhelming workload, had little communication with your boss, or didn’t connect with your coworkers.

The best answers to your career aspirations will center around positive job experiences. You should know what will make you happy in your future career to align it with your personal dreams better.

Action Step: Make a list of your positive and negative job experiences. These will shed some light on what aligns with you!

Step 4: Consult with professional leaders in your life

You’ve likely worked with someone in your past or current job who became a mentor. They taught you how to succeed in your career, defined your professional outlook, and supported your development. 

Talk with whoever you consider a personal and professional leader about what they could see you doing with your career. They might note characteristics or dreams you once discussed that seem a better fit for you. If you’re unsure about your aspirations, it may help to get an outside perspective from someone you trust.

Want to level-up your life? Watch our video below to learn how to create your own professional development plan:

Step 5: Watch who you gravitate toward

Check who you follow on social media and whose books you read. These leaders will be people outside your personal life. They lead by example, causing people to admire them based on their personalities and actions.

For example, if you’re into charisma, you might look up to Dwayne Johnson. Or, if you’re into being an intellectual, Magnus Carlsen might be more up your alley.

People can serve as long-term career aspirations examples if you study how they got where they are today. Map their careers to reflect them in your own. You’ll also note what you like about them by watching their speeches, TED Talks, presentations, or interviews. Study their drives and ambitions to see if you share the same ideals.

Things to Avoid When Creating Career Aspirations

Defining your career aspirations may take some time. Remember to avoid these potential pitfalls as you work through your dreams and goals.

1. Rushing through the steps

Creating career aspirations takes some time. Trying to complete this step overnight might result in fewer career options for you to consider or less research that makes it challenging to set actionable SMART goals.

Journal throughout your experience to remember everything that comes to mind. You can take your time reflecting, daydreaming, and researching to find the best jobs for your aspirations and enjoy professional success in a rewarding career.

Pro Tip: Reflect on your strengths if your aspirations aren’t clear. You can focus your career plans around your best skills to work in a position that gives you confidence.

2. Attempting to do things alone

People depend on each other to succeed in various ways. Remember to talk with professional mentors in your life for advice and encouragement. Teachers and tutors can support you if you need to earn a degree or certification. Friends and family members can also become great sources of loving support as you push yourself to grow professionally.

Without these support networks, you may become discouraged, fall behind, or give up on your goals. It can take time to turn career aspirations into your professional reality. Surround yourself with supportive loved ones and advisors to help you get there.

3. Trying to jump in too fast

Research is critical to defining and sticking with your career aspirations. You couldn’t start a career as a lawyer without first completing law school. You couldn’t begin law school without researching various programs and funding options.

Give yourself time to research whichever fields and jobs interest you most. You’ll have more information to draft a plan that gets you where you want to go.

4. Not setting timely goals

Don’t forget about SMART goals as you write your career aspirations statement. The time-specific nature of SMART goals will help you mark progress with benchmark dates and times. They’ll also use specific information about your plans to create actionable steps, like how you’ll develop your career skills or what you’ll study.

5. Being too hard on yourself

Avoid limiting what you can dream for yourself. You can do anything, but only if you permit yourself the freedom to explore the possibilities.

Your career aspirations might also fail if you hold yourself to an initial timetable and quit if everything doesn’t go according to plan. There’s always room for improving or refining your career change plan. As you better understand your future career, you may need to adjust your goals to fit a more realistic timetable.

Write Your Career Aspiration Statement in 4 Steps

Collect your research and process it into a career aspiration statement. Follow these steps to create a cohesive, actionable goal aligning with your values.

1. Pick a personal value

Reflect on your list of personal values and dreams to draft the first portion of your statement. Say you want to open that previously mentioned dental practice to help low-income individuals and families. The first sentence in your statement might look like this:

I care about helping people dealing with economic instability. I also love the science of dentistry. I want to combine those two things by becoming a dentist who owns a practice that provides dental services for people who don’t have insurance.

You can also find your values by answering important career questions such as:

  • What are my personal development goals?
  • Do those goals support or align with any careers?
  • What projects do I love working on?
  • Am I comfortable in leadership positions?
  • How do I want to help people?
  • What are my core values?
  • What do I want to be known for?

Record each answer when you finish your list. When reflecting on them, you may realize you’d be happier in a career of service or leadership rather than what you currently do.

Fun Tip: You can also define your career by taking our Big 5 personality test to understand yourself better. You’ll learn about your social nature, what you dislike, and how to optimize your behavior to create a fulfilling career.

2. Combine your research and SMART goals

The answers to your career questions can show you which roles would be better for your personality. You’ll know if you’re more of a leader or an independent thinker and which core values drive you to get out of bed each day. Use those answers to pinpoint potential industries or jobs.

If you answered the core values question with a value like helping underserved communities, founding a non-profit could be the most fulfilling career path. However, don’t stop at just one idea—list at least three to five that utilize your greatest passions or interests.

Next, you’ll create SMART career goals. Those will be any objectives that feature clear and precise guidelines2, such as:

  • A Specific finish line
  • Measurable steps to reach that finish line
  • Achievable timelines for each step
  • Relevancy to your values
  • Time-bound endpoints for each step and the conclusion of your goal

SMART goal example: Opening a dentistry practice for low-income communities

Imagine you follow your new dream of helping people with affordable dental care. You’ll need SMART goals to set actionable steps and make this career aspiration come true.

Start by creating a detailed outline of each step you’d need to take to open your practice. Use your previous and continued research to make a list that looks something like this:

  • Apply for the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and get accepted for next year’s fall semester.
  • Apply for any related scholarships and secure a student loan for whatever I need to pay out of pocket.
  • Complete the five-year program and at least one dental internship before I graduate.
  • Apply for a general dentistry job at practices wherever I want to live long-term.
  • Gain five years of experience as a dentist to build my real-world skills and resume.
  • Research how to open my practice and which communities near my home are most underserved.
  • Open my practice within two years, hire a small team of 10 employees, and begin advertising our low-cost services for people without dental insurance.

These SMART goals create a detailed outline with information like which dentistry school you prefer and how long you’ll work to gain experience before opening your practice. You’ll know exactly how to progress toward your greatest career aspiration instead of hoping to get there one day.

Key Quote: SMART goals feature clear and precise guidelines to measure progress toward any aspiration.

Combining the career research and SMART goals you created provides the details you need to make your aspiration actionable. The next portion of your statement could look like this:

To accomplish this goal, I’ll attend the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and graduate within five years. I’ll work as a dentist and gain real-world experience for another two years, then open a private practice in a low-income community where I live.

There are other steps you defined within your SMART goals list, but you don’t need to list each one within your career aspiration statement. The statement summarizes your goals, while your SMART goals list provides the specific steps you need to take.

3. Add any supportive habits

It could take weeks, months, or years to reach your goals. In the meantime, you’ll need supportive habits to maintain motivation and focus.

List habits you’ll start alongside your aspirational statement, separate them into categories, and watch yourself make actionable progress. Reflect on which areas of your life could improve and create a list that looks something like this:

  • My sleep routine
    • Starting tomorrow, I’ll get six to eight hours of sleep every night.
    • I’ll only hit my snooze button once in the morning to have more time to get ready.
    • I’ll turn my light off five minutes earlier tonight for more time to settle my mind.
  • My eating routine
    • I’ll eat one serving of vegetables daily.
    • I’ll replace one processed snack with whole foods each week.
    • I’ll reduce my sugar intake by swapping one daily soda for a sugar-free alternative like sparkling water.
  • My self-care routine
    • I’ll write three journal entries each week to vent about what’s stressing me out or celebrating something good that happened.
    • I’ll practice a deep breathing exercise daily during my lunch break to reduce my anxiety.
    • I’ll create a timed reminder, so I start brushing my teeth before bed every night instead of forgetting more often.

Supportive habits take care of your physical and mental health, so you have the energy to continue working toward your goal. Add these to the end of your statement to remind yourself what you can do along the way.

While studying, working, and opening my practice, I’ll support my well-being by getting six to eight hours of sleep each night. I’ll also eat a healthier diet to maintain my energy and start a self-care habit of weekly journaling to check in with myself.

4. Combine your statement pieces

It’s time to pull your statement pieces together into a complete career aspiration. The dental career statement would look like this when completed:

I care about helping people dealing with economic instability. I also love the science of dentistry. I want to combine those two things by becoming a dentist who owns a practice that provides low-income dental services for people who don’t have insurance.

To accomplish this goal, I’ll attend the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and graduate within five years. I’ll work as a dentist and gain real-world experience for another two years, then open a private practice in a low-income community where I live.

While studying, working, and opening my practice, I’ll support my well-being by getting six to eight hours of sleep each night. I’ll also eat a healthier diet to maintain my energy and start a self-care habit of weekly journaling to check in with myself along the way.

The complete statement is actionable because you’ve explained what you need to accomplish to become a dentist. It’s also manageable for long-term success because you built supportive habits into your plan.

Career Aspiration Templates

Read these career aspiration examples to understand what your aspirational statement could look like with various goals. You’ll see exactly how to outline different aspirations and know why they’re more motivating than your average daydream.

Aspiration template for a promotion

Say you’re a cashier but want to become the co-manager of the retail store where you work. Your sample career aspirations statement could look like this:

“I will get promoted to co-manager of this retail store in five years or less. To earn that promotion, I’ll complete the Associate’s degree courses in business management at my local community college. After spending two years finishing those classes, I’ll request specific supervisory responsibilities to gain real-world experience. When I’m ready, or the five-year deadline arrives, I’ll request a meeting and pitch why I should be co-manager.”

Aspiration template to learn a new skill

Your career aspirations and goals will likely involve learning something new. A career progression outline could resemble this:

“I want to leave my position in Human Resources for an entry-level position with our graphic design team. By December 31 this year, I’ll complete my state college’s virtual graphic design training program and present my certification to the hiring manager. I’ll show them the specific programs and skills I can use to benefit their team and request a transfer.”

Aspiration template for relocating

When people seek career aspiration examples for leadership positions, they may consider relocating to a company’s headquarters. If you want to relocate to a different city or country, your career aspirations statement might look like this:

“I would thrive as a movie director. I’m already in film school but need to move to Los Angeles after graduation. By midnight this Friday, I’ll create a list of potential apartments I could afford in L.A. Over the following week, I’ll list full-time jobs with hourly wages high enough to pay rent and close enough to my chosen apartments to avoid a commute longer than 30 minutes. By the last day of this month, I’ll name my top three choices to secure my preferences when jobs or apartments become available.”

Aspiration template for earning a degree

A recent survey found 62% of employers3 still require a college degree for entry-level jobs. If you need a sample career aspirations statement that focuses on achieving a degree, you could find inspiration in something like this:

“I want to become a chemical engineer, and Stanford is my dream university. By January 5 next year, I’ll apply to their undergraduate program and select Chemical Engineering as my desired major. In four years, I’ll graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and apply for chemical engineering jobs within the pharmaceutical industry.”

Aspiration template for starting a company

If your entrepreneurial spirit dreams of starting a company, reflect on what you need to get there. After you have specifics in mind, you could write a statement like:

“I will launch an event planning company in the next two years. By the end of this year, I’ll create a virtual portfolio of at least three events I planned for no charge. Between those three events, I’ll read books with advice for entrepreneurs starting companies and draft a business plan. My experience and training will guide me to my official online launch within the next two years.”

Takeaway: Find Your Career Aspirations

Anyone can find their career aspirations by reading a few examples like these. Follow these steps to get started today:

  • Read career aspirations for various industries.
  • Think about what you want for your future.
  • Browse sample career aspirations statements.
  • Draft your career aspirations statement.
  • Chart your career goals alongside your aspirations.

Spend time reflecting on what you’re passionate about and how you want to spend your time. Your research will show which steps you should take to make your dreams a reality, while a defined career statement will guide your progression with timely SMART goals.

Need more help? You can read about various work styles to learn you specifically thrive in any workplace. When your career aspirations and statement are ready, and you want to make that first significant change, draft a professional resignation letter to kickstart your new career.

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