Are you working to pay the bills or are you inspired, fulfilled, and content with your current career path? There’s a huge difference between the two, and getting from one to the other is no accident.
If you’re really serious about reaching your career goals, you need a new and better framework for getting there. Here’s what we advise.
Lay a Strong Foundation for Career Goal Setting
Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek has a lot to say about why people fail or succeed in their endeavors. At the core, he says, success starts with finding your “why” or core purpose. This is what will direct you in both your life and your career, and it’s also the only thing that will make you feel accomplished once the adrenaline rush of promotions and raises wears off.
Closely related to this concept is Sinek’s advice to always find something better. You should never quit a job, he suggests, just to get away from it. Instead, always move on to something better, and when that’s not an option, you should use your current job as a learning experience.
Finally, he says, find a mentor. An outside perspective can help you more thoroughly discover parts of your personality and values that you should consider when determining your “why” and the career goals that align with that purpose.
Avoid Looking for the Perfect Job
Let’s be brutally honest: The perfect job doesn’t exist. While some companies have significantly better cultures, team dynamics, and opportunities than others, the trick to finding a fulfilling career is more dependent upon your own outlook and work ethic than on the company itself.
Thus, when setting your career goals, you need to be realistic about the attitude you adopt in your daily life and responsibilities. No one wants to deal with a toxic work environment, a power-hungry boss, or unreasonable expectations; but every job is going to have its challenges, disappointments, and stress. Understanding how you react and adapt to these problems will help you set more realistic career goals.
Adopting a Framework for Career Goal Setting
With the right foundation and the right attitude, you’re much closer to setting and achieving effective career goals. We return to Simon Sinek for some final advice on the specifics of career goal setting.
1. Think Big, Be Specific, Act Small
Creating “realistic” goals sounds sensible. However, setting the bar too low means you run the risk of never finding out what your true potential is. Sinek recommends thinking big and setting that bar higher than you’re comfortable with in order to see what you’re really capable of.
Be aware that as your goals get loftier, it’s easy to get too vague, and therein lies the danger of not reaching your target. The more specific, the better. Additionally, be prepared to act on this goal in small steps. The bigger the goal, the more bite-sized steps it will take to get there.
2. Use Verbs
You’ve probably heard that you should always write your goals down, and it will be tempting to simply write “a new job” or “a promotion.” The problem with goals when stated in this way is that they don’t really inspire action. Sinek suggests that when writing out your goals, you should use actionable verbs that will hold you accountable to actually doing something rather than waiting around for something to happen.
3. Be Patient
Big goals require patience, especially on the days when you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. When you’re frustrated by your progress or by roadblocks in your path, revisit your “why” to remember the core reasons you’re seeking these goals. How will a new job impact your life? What difference do you hope to make by achieving that promotion? These are big goals. Patience is key.
4. Measure Often
Reviewing your goals regularly is the only way to hold yourself accountable to achieving them. What milestones should you be measuring on your way? What expectations should you be exceeding in preparation? These might be performance reviews, certifications or classes, project successes, or interviews. Whatever your points of measurement, make sure you write them down and review them regularly.
5. Don’t Compare
Comparing your progress to what you perceive in other people will only set you back. Remember, you created your goals based on your core values and purpose, so they are unique to you. That means your progress and timeline are unique, too. You should only be comparing yourself today to yourself yesterday.
Are you ready to reach your career goals in 2018? We’d love to hear more about them and, if possible, help you achieve them. Check out our available jobs in IT, engineering, manufacturing, and operations to get started.
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