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5 steps to help you talk to your boss about your goals

Movies and TV shows love to depict the boss/employee relationship as negative. In the real world, though, your boss can be a partner in helping you reach your career and education goals rather than an obstacle.

Finding ways to make this happen can mean a lot for your future. Here are a few ways to get the ball rolling:

1. Figure out what you want

Before your manager can help you achieve your career-related goals, including those around continuing your education, you have to know what they are.

Make a list: What do you want to be doing six months from now? One year from now? Five years from now? What position do you want to hold? What skills will you need to make it happen, and what are you doing to gain those skills?

Have a clear view you can share with your boss.

2. Make a date

Your company might require your manager to give you an annual job evaluation, but that might not be the best time to have a larger, more in-depth conversation about your career aspirations and what you’re doing as a student to get there.

Try scheduling a separate meeting with your boss, and make it clear ahead of time that you want to talk about your long-term goals.

3. Be a solution

Come to your boss with solutions instead of problems. For example, rather than saying, “I want to do X, how can you help me?” try, “I want to do X, and here are some solutions I’ve brainstormed for how to make that happen.”

Also, figure out how to present your goals in the context of the company. You want to show how your aspirations and your education will benefit not just yourself, but also your boss and your company. Lay out all the pros — for everyone involved.

4. Ask for feedback

You want to be organized for the meeting and have your own suggestions ready to go, but be sure to ask your boss for their advice as well. After all, he or she was probably in your position once.

5. Document your wins

Hopefully, you and your boss will develop an action plan for the next several months, including how you can incorporate what you’re learning in the classroom into your job. Whatever you come up with, keep track of what works and how the company benefits. Share these wins with your boss — along with gratitude for the guidance.

Ultimately, your boss can’t recognize your goals if he or she doesn’t know about them, and you can’t move closer to your next career goal. Show — and tell — just how great you are.