Regardless of your new year’s resolutions, there’s always something to strive towards when it comes to your career. We all have ideas of where we want to be in a year. Or five years. Or ten years. But building out a long-term plan isn’t easiest thing, and putting time frames on things can feel like undue pressure. That’s why we’re recommending setting career goals.
Setting goals versus having a timeline flips the paradigm for achievement. When there’s an inflexible timeline, it can actually work against us because we either think that there’s an abundance of time or on the other end of the spectrum, that there’s not enough time to get wherever we want to be. When we have no timeline at all, it’s hard to know how we are even doing on achieving our goals. Either way, it turns into an excuse. Having a balance between the two – creating a timeline but allowing it to meld with opportunities when they arise, regardless of when they come up, is the key to success.
The key thing is being able to recognize opportunities and understanding the role we play in making them arise. Some people might attribute it to destiny, others might call it the result of hard work. However you choose to look at it, here are some tips from Forbes on how to pick (and stick) to career goals.
1. Maintain your strategy
Step one is knowing what you want to do. Step two is setting up a strategy to get there. The most important aspect to this is to keep your eyes on the prize, and not getting mired in day-to-day tasks. When an opportunity arises, say to work on a special project or serve on a committee, take advantage of getting involved – but, focus on the ones that can take you to the next level on the path to your goals.
2. Work on your weaknesses
Want to work in leadership? Look up some different assessments online to figure out what areas you may need to improve in. Having a mentor, or a trusted boss, or anyone who can tell you about your flaws and how to fix them is helpful, too. It’s better to know what your possible failings are and work on them now. It’s also great interview fodder to be able to say, “I used to…. But now, I ….”
3. Track and foster progress
If your goal can be measured, then this step is easy. If it’s a little more abstract...well, it’s not quite as seamless. Find ways to remind yourself of your goal and keep it literally in plain sight. It might be post it on your computer monitor or a picture on the wall--whatever works for your mind. Secondly, share your goal with other people and ask them to keep you accountable and ask you about them periodically to keep it on your mind. Like we said, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day nature of our work life. Don’t let it become an excuse.
4. Look at your hobbies & lifestyle
Your ideas of success will probably change over time. Your hobbies and lifestyle will help dictate what success looks like for you. Success to someone just entering the workforce might be affording a nice house or car. To someone with a family, success might be a job that allows them to be home when they get off the bus. To someone else, it might be a job where they can take long vacations once a year. What you think you want probably will change as you learn more about yourself and what *really* matters to you. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your old goals, but simply learn how to flex the new path into the course.
Whatever your goals are, make the most of your current momentum to chart a course to success. What are some of your career goals? What is your next step in reaching one?