Henry David Thoreau, an American writer best known for his book Walden, said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

What he meant by “castles in the air” are your aspirations or dreams. These could be making an impact, creating change or becoming a leader.

Whatever your career aspirations, the point is that you must never let them go. Thoreau talks about putting foundations under your castles. These foundations refer to your efforts to achieve your goals.

It’s important to differentiate career aspirations from career goals. Although similar, aspirations are something you hope to achieve, whereas goals are more tangible. For instance, becoming a world-renowned designer is an aspiration, and establishing your own design studio is a goal.

Career aspirations are what drive and motivate you to accomplish your goals.

Let’s look at how you can define your future aspirations with examples of career aspirations.

What Are Your Career Aspirations?

The meaning of career aspirations is the desire to achieve something, not what you want to achieve. It’s the feeling that encourages you to move ahead with your plan.

Say, you want to be an artist. If you’re talented and skilled, your career aspirations could be to make an impact with your art. Writers aspire to comfort their readers or bring attention to social issues. You may even want to be the best in your field.

Your career aspirations may just be the reason you go to work every day or continue to learn.

How To Define Your Career Aspirations

Hiring managers may ask you about your future aspirations in a job interview. The most important thing you have to remember is to align your professional aspirations with the organization’s mission. This is especially true if you want to work in an organization that has the same values. For instance, if you may aspire to work independently, organizations with a flat organizational structure will suit you.

Talking about autonomy will show your interviewer that you can take initiative and you’re a quick learner. You should try to tailor your future aspirations according to where you’re applying. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to change your aspirations. Think about it in the context of how we update our resume according to the job role.

If you’re not sure about your career aspirations, here are a few helpful ways:

  1. Ask yourself ‘why’

When you’re in doubt, whether it’s about a new job opportunity or making a big career move, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Sometimes we tend to lose ourselves in our work. We forget to check if we’re on the right track. The ‘why’ question can help you get back on track and understand what you truly hope to accomplish.

  1. Visualize your goals

Picturing where you want to be is an excellent motivator. Many people make mood boards or vision boards about what they want to accomplish. This acts as a visual representation of your aspirations.

  1. Do your research

If you’re feeling lost about what you want to do, try to research the industry you are interested in. So if you are interested in technology, you can read up on artificial intelligence and design thinking. There are multiple avenues for research or you can join a professional network like LinkedIn to find mentors or industry experts who can guide you.

  1. Find your purpose

If you can find your purpose or what you aspire to accomplish, you’ll have a fulfilling life. Talking to friends and family may help you discover your career aspirations. They can help you assess who you are and what you can do objectively.

It’s important to revisit your aspirations from time to time, even if you’re fully sure of what you want to accomplish. Harappa Education’s Discovering Purpose course will teach you how to discover your best self. Identify your professional aspirations, values and beliefs to embark on your journey to success.


Explore blogs on topics such as Performance Management, the Performance Management Process & How to Become Successful in Life in our Harappa Diaries section to go on a path of self-development.

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