It doesn’t matter whether your career goal is to achieve a promotion, a new role, a pay rise or something entirely different. Whatever you want to achieve requires a plan. Not just hoping for the best.
A plan of how you are going to make your goal become a reality.
Specific actions, time frames and measures are the 3 things that are essential to include.
In other words:
What are you going to do?
When are you going to do it? and
How will you know you have been successful?
Don’t just hope for the best!
Plan your career the way you would plan your work.
Take control of your future and hold yourself accountable!
Include specific actions, time frames and measures in your career plan!
Now that the champagne has been popped, fireworks set off and the ball in Times Square has not only been dropped but packed away (where do they keep that thing?) and life is returning to usual after the holidays – do you know what you want to achieve in 2016?
Are you struggling with the words that go after “This year I’m going to…. ” ?
The New Year is a time that many of us use to wipe the slate clean of the previous year and set new goals. The big question for many of us is….what do I really want to achieve?
If you’re like me the conversation sometime over the Christmas / New Year period involved friends and family discussing goals and plans for 2016.
Lose weight, get organized, relax and save more were common themes for everyone around our table. Along with career goals to get a promotion, change jobs or achieve a better balance between work and home (that was a big one!).
But to be honest (and it may have been the wine involved) many of these resolutions were so vague that it would be a big jump to get from the goal to the actions that would be required to achieve them. Which is probably why so few New Year’s resolutions are achieved. According to the folks who know about these things (at the University of Scranton)just 8% of people stick to their resolutions.
The key to make the changes that you need to achieve a goal (and stick with them longer than February) is to have specific actionable steps. However, before you can do this – you need to know EXACTLY what you want to achieve (No, I’m not yelling at you with the capitals…just making sure you are paying attention).
Being more awesome might be important to you. But how will you know that you are more awesome? In what area of your life or career?
Getting a promotion would also be fabulous. But to what role? For which company? With what salary?
Maybe you want to increase your skills to get an edge in your occupation? But which skills?
You get the drift…you need to have a clear goal.
The question is, if you’re not quite sure, how do you set your career goals for the year ahead?
Here’s 7 questions to ask yourself that can help you work out what you really want. (I’d recommend a quiet spot, a glass of wine or a cup of tea or coffee and a note pad to doodle on whilst you contemplate these…I find a nice view helps as well…)
My goal setting venue for 2016 – Sunshine Coast, Australia
Got your spot sorted? Ok, here are the questions…
1. What are you pleased that you achieved in 2015?
What are the two or three things you did last year that you’re proud of? They don’t have to be items that you would list on your resume or discuss in an annual performance review. But things that you did that you are really pleased about. They are a good guide to what is important to you.
2. What were your goals for 2015?
Do they map to the achievements you’re pleased about?
Or were there New Year’s resolutions from last year that didn’t happen?
(Don’t feel bad…according to that University of Scranton study there would be a 94% chance of this!)
3. Do you still want to achieve any of those outstanding 2015 goals?
Really? If you had a whole year and they didn’t get prioritized what’s going to be different about this year? Why/How will you get cut through this year?
Sometimes goals don’t get started because they are almost too important and you think that you need more time than you have to dedicate to them.
So there may be something that you do really want to do that just didn’t get off the starting block in 2015 (or 2014, or 2013). If that’s the case have a think about if there is a way you can break the goal down into smaller tasks. Or how you can readjust your expectations so that conditions don’t have to be “perfect” for you to get started.
4. What will make you pleased if in your 2016 end-of-year reflections you can say “I’m really pleased that this year I…”
Think ahead to next New Year (OMG!)…what would make you feel happily smug with yourself if you achieve it this year?
5. What do you need to achieve a bigger goal?
Is there a qualification you need to score a promotion?
An association or organization you need to join to meet key people in your industry or company?
Something you need to learn?
A milestone goal you can set?
6. What’s in your heart that you really want to do?
It may not seem achievable, it may not seem like a priority in your day-to-life…but you really want to be working towards it.
Don’t discount your dreams for what you think you should be doing.
If there is something you really want how does it sound at the end of the “This year I’m going to…” sentence?
7. What can you do to make your goal a reality?
Work out how you are going to get started, what you are going to do and when you are going to do it.
You don’t want your priority for 2016 to be on your list of resolutions that didn’t get off the ground when you look back over the year…
Hopefully these questions have provided you with some food for thought about what you would like to achieve this year.
Imagine how Australian Jarmila Gajdosova must have felt every January for the last 9 years when she turned up to Melbourne and never won a match at the Grand Slam tennis major, the Australian Open?
Despite playing well in other countries and other tournaments, this was one goal Gajdosova, currently 62 in the world rankings, just couldn’t crack. And in 9 years she never progressed past the first round.
Disappointed? Frustrated? Annoyed? (To say the least I would suspect!)
All feelings that many of us have when we try. Our best. And aren’t successful at achieving our goals or realizing our dreams.
It must have been tough coming back to play year after year. But she did.
And that’s the way to reach your goals – don’t give up!
There are many examples of success being achieved after multiple attempts (and failures) – Thomas Edison took 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb, Steven King’s first novel was rejected by publishers 30 times, Jay-Z couldn’t get a record company to sign him up. I could go on.
It’s not just tennis players, inventors, best-selling authors and hip-hop artists that need to keep going in the face of disappointments.
It’s relevant if you miss out on a promotion, role or course you apply for. It’s relevant if you don’t achieve your sales or business targets. It’s relevant if you don’t get to work on a particular project or with a certain team or whatever goal you have set for your career.
It’s relevant to all of us who have a dream, or a goal we want to achieve and run into some disappointments along the way.
There may be a number of things we need to do differently. But the first is don’t give up!
The Career Tip To Go: Keep going and focus on your goals.
My mother was right (let’s keep that between us!) when she used to quote the old proverb to me “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”