9 steps to get your career goals back on track

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By Karen Adamedes

Despite the very best of intentions, well formulated goals and detailed plans – life happens and those well laid plans to achieve your career goals can go off track.

Whether it’s attending network events, devoting time to developing your skills or spending time on something you love (like blogging about career skills for instance!) sometimes other things take precedence.

People get sick, you move house, an urgent deadline, client demands, unplanned activities, house guests…all sorts of things can get in the way of those plans to do more to develop your career and work towards your goals.

You may have deviated from your plan and be disappointed about the lost time but if you really want to achieve those goals the trick is to get back on track.

Here’s 9 tips to get your career goals (and in fact any type of goals) back on track:

1. Don’t beat yourself up

Whatever has taken you off track has happened. It is what it is.

It is wasted time and energy to beat yourself up over the fact that you haven’t done what you were going to. Not only will it just make you feel bad, it’s time and effort you could be putting into getting back going.

There is some advantage though to putting a little bit of thought into what happened and why. Which might just prevent it happening again.

2. Review your old plan

It might not be written down but if you are working towards your goals there would at least be a plan in your head (or you wouldn’t be off track now!)

Review the plan you had and assess whether you set yourself up for failure… some of the common issues are:

  • Not writing the plan down – did you lose track what you were going to do?
  • Not having specific actions identified – was the action too vague? Did you identify what you were going to do when, how you were going to do it and when?
  • Being too ambitious – did you have more on your plan than you could reasonably achieve?
  • It wasn’t  the right plan – did you not have the actions that would help you achieve your goals?

Or did unforeseen circumstances just get in your way?

If that’s the case, just acknowledge the fact and move on.

But if there is something you could have done to prevent going off track…adjust your plan so it’s easier to stick to and will help you work towards your goals.

It’s your plan and your goals…why shouldn’t you make it as easy on yourself as you can?

 3. Reaffirm your goals

Have an honest appraisal with yourself, or a chat with a mentor or trusted adviser, and reaffirm that you are working towards the goal/s that you really, really want.

It’s hard to stick to the course of a plan if it is not your priority. Or if it is not moving you towards something that you really want.

Career development is a non-mandatory activity. There is (not usually) anyone telling you what you have to do and when. There are often no greater implications than disappointing yourself if you don’t follow through and the later loss of potential opportunities.

But there is not a manager or a partner or parent holding you to account. It’s why so many people have personal trainers to work towards their fitness goals. They pay to be held to account because they are committed to their goals (well that’s the justification I tell myself when I am being yelled at anyway!)

It’s you holding you to account. Make sure it’s for what you want.

4. Evaluate where you are

Once you’ve reviewed what took you off track and confirmed that you have the right goals for you (or set new ones)…evaluate exactly where you are now.

It’s like your reading your credit card statement each month…there is no point leaving it unopened and be in denial about what you owe. You have to know how far in the red you are to work out how you are going to pay it off.

It’s the same thing with working towards a career goal. Know where you are now so you can work out what to do next.

5. Make a specific and actionable plan

Set yourself specific objectives. What you are going to do. And when you are going to do it.

If its networking. Who with? Reconnecting with people you know to keep contacts current? Or meeting new people? Decide who you want to meet with and when you are going to do it.

If its to learn something. What do you want to learn (and why)? How can you learn it? Who do you need to talk to? Is there a course you can do? When is the course or person available?

If its to find a mentor. What do you want to learn? Who could you learn it from? When are you going to approach them? How? When?

You get the drift…

6. Prioritize where to start

Once you have your action plan – prioritize where to start.

What is most important? What can you fit in with your other priorities? What will get you a’quick win’ to give give you inspiration to keep going? What’s first?

7. Tell someone what you are doing

I’m not suggesting that you make an announcement on social media but sharing your plan with someone you trust can give you ‘fresh eyes’ and feedback on your plan. More importantly, it can provide you with some accountability to make sure you stick to your plan.

When I was writing my first book I told lots of trusted advisers (I like to think out loud. To be completely honest I just like to talk). I received lots of encouragement, support and feedback. And I just had to finish it once I had made it know that I had started. For me that accountability probably made the difference between an idea and a reality.

8. Start

So all the best laid plans don’t amount to anything if you don’t do something about them. The only way to actually get your goal back on track is to start!

Review Step 6 …what’s first?

9. Keep going

Once you have started – keep going. Be realistic about what you can do. But don’t make excuses. Celebrate the small wins. Be flexible, other priorities will try and get in the way. Keep going.

And you’re back on track! It might not be the same one as before. It might be even better! And you’re working on your dreams and goals.

Enjoy the process!!

 

Like more career tips? 

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2 Comments
  1. Deep thought! Thanks for cointrbuting.

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