Do you have clear goals written down? If not, start by identifying key insights and lessons by looking backwards. How can you build more opportunity for “flow” (aka your mojo workplace zone) in your work life?
If you are unsatisfied in your career, you likely need a new career plan. It happens. As we age and grow professionally, our ideal job criteria can change dramatically. The same position or industry that excited us 10 years ago may look very different today. Our needs change, as do the skills required to be successful in the marketplace.
It’s important to get clear about what’s important to you in a dream job — consider your own skills, strengths, interests and needs, as well as things such as company or team size, growth opportunities, geographic location, job function and lifestyle considerations.
Though it’s easy to imagine, many people get stuck taking their dream past this point, as it often requires sacrifice, discipline, work and commitment. Reality can be sobering, but identifying the gap between where you are today and where you want to be is vital for developing a successful plan.
A career self-assessment is important, and many people will want to invest in outside expertise for this important step. Consider your experience, strengths and challenges. How do these match with those required to be successful in your dream job?
Your plan to address any identified deficiencies is frequently the difference (and key) between a dream and true professional achievement.
This year create goals that can help you prioritize your time and efforts. Research shows that goal setting can lead to improved performance. (In a famous Ivy League study of students, the 3 percent of those with written goals earned 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of classmates put together!) Choose carefully. A long list of goals can overwhelm, and having 10 priorities is like having none.
The “SMART” acronym can be useful for effective goal setting. Though there are many variations of the SMART goal setting process, these cover the basics:
- Specific — What does success look like with this goal?
- Measurable — How will I track my performance?
- Achievable — Is this goal reasonable and realistic vs. “pie in the sky”?
- Relevant — Would achieving this goal make a true difference? The goal should matter to you.
- Time bound — What is your “by when” or time in the future by which you want to accomplish this goal?
I would add a “C” to the end of the “SMART” acronym to provide motivation and leverage; it can be powerful to imagine what it will be like to achieve your goal (or not!).
- Consequence — What does achieving (or not achieving) your goal look like? Is it building your dream home, sending your kids to college or using your creative talents to better others’ lives? Whatever yours are — you need to get clear about them.
Consider, for example, the difference between a goal of “to be successful” and one of, “I will be in a director role of our company by June 2009, which will increase my salary by 25 percent and allow me to build our retirement home on Orcas Island.” The second goal is much more powerful, compelling and focused.
The difference between “pie in the sky” and achievement of goals is coming up with the specific action plan. Your action plan is your personal road map to success. What are the daily or weekly steps you need to take this year to meet your goal? For some it will include new job tasks to gain experience. For others it may be taking the necessary steps to achieve an advanced degree or conducting informational interviews with professionals in the targeted field. Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically accomplish in the coming year. Identify the “must dos” vs. the “would like to do” to achieve your goal. Remember to anticipate obstacles to success and build in your plan how you will overcome them!
The hard part comes next — actually doing the action steps required and staying on your path. To help, write down your goals, share them with others and use visual triggers that represent attainment of your goals that you can see every day (some use vision boards or screen-saver reminders). Remember to celebrate small successes as you go along, and to use temporary setbacks as learning opportunities vs. reasons to give up.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper was quoted (while covering the aftermath of hurricane Katrina) saying, “Hope is not a plan.” Successful plans require considerable thought process, commitment and effort — as well as having champions, coaches and allies that will help keep you on path and accountable.
Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities. I coach professionals all over the world via Skype. Call me: 360 682 5807 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org