Achieving Your Early Childhood Education Career Goals

Sitting down with pen and paper to write the vision for your early childhood education career can be intimidating. Where do you begin? Should it be a one-year plan? A five-year plan? Where should you start? And, once your goals have become more than an idea, how do you start making them real?

At ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI), we’re devoted to supporting early childhood educators like you meet and exceed your personal and professional development goals through online courses, certification programs and more.

That’s why we’ve compiled this how-to guide to help NCCA members like you set and accomplish your professional goals:

Start thinking of your end goal and work in reverse.

While it may seem unusual, beginning your planning at your end goal will help you strive towards making it to that goal post. Get specific about writing down your dream destination (e.g. owning my own center, becoming the lead teacher at a top childcare center). Put down as much detail as you can about that dream role. If you’re challenged by imagining that end goal, try detailing what your ideal day would look like in that future position. What kinds of tasks would you do? How will the course of the day differ from your average workday now? How are you feeling at the end of that day?

Take a ‘smart’ approach to your goals.

Once you have mapped out the general direction of your career, it’s time to nail down the steps to get there. From there, make each step into a goal that helps you navigate toward your eventual professional success. To determine whether the goals you’re setting can come to fruition and direct you toward your dream career, we recommend putting each one through the SMART test. That means asking yourself whether or not your goals are:

●   Specific: Is the goal clear and defined?

●   Measurable: Are there metrics that can serve as a benchmark when you’ve met your goal?

●   Achievable: Is your goal reasonable? If not, what needs to happen to make it attainable?

●   Relevant: Does it ladder up to your greater professional goals?

●   Time-Bound: Is there a target date tied to your goal? 

By setting SMART goals, you’ll help ensure you’ve set strategies that will result in success— and that will keep you motivated along your journey.

Write it down.

Studies show that people who cement their professional goals on paper are more likely to reach them, so take a moment to write down the SMART goals you’ve created. If you’ve got a personal planner or journal, denote the deadlines for your major goals, as well as reminders for when you should be at the halfway point. This will help you recall those goals and ensure you’re accountable as you secure each goal.

Seek support.

Whether it’s your manager, fellow teacher, spouse or friend, share your goals with someone else. Talk to them about what motivates you, how you want to accomplish your goals and when you want to reach the milestones. Then, ask if they can be your accountability partner along the way by checking in with you monthly, quarterly, etc. 

Revisit your goals often.

Career goals are not to be made and tucked away in your memories. Like all things in life, your professional goals can grow and change over time. Think about what you wanted in your career three years ago. Is that what you’re working toward today? Keeping that thought, schedule time to routinely and frequently revisit your goals. Are your priorities the same? If so, how are you progressing as far as your goal timeline? If you haven’t been hitting the benchmarks you planned to, think about what could be adjusted to make those attainable. Even if your goals and timeline are still the same, giving yourself the chance to revisit your plan can help motivate you even more.

A win is a win, so celebrate it.

As you work to accomplish each goal, be sure to take time to celebrate. The celebratory moment can range from something as simple as buying yourself an iced coffee or taking it up a few notches to pampering yourself with a massage or pedicure. By honoring your accomplishments, you’ll make note of the progress you’re making and feel more confident in completing the remaining steps.

One sure way to win in early childhood education is by earning your Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. The CDA is the most recognizable credential in our industry, and earning your CDA guarantees more marketability in our field and considerably more earning potential.

CCEI’s CDA program lets you build a professional foundation and strengthen your capabilities to prepare you for a career in ECE. After earning your CDA, take the next step towards earning a college degree to increase your earning power with StraighterLine’s five new ECE online college courses.

So what are you waiting for? Click HERE to complete their courses today to go further in achieving your ultimate career goal!