Goal-Setting: Developing a Vision & Goals for Your Career Plan
There’s this charming story about a man who was lost, came across an old man and asked him for directions. The old man asked him if he knows where he is, to which the lost man replied that he does not know. The old man asked again if he knows where he wants to go, and the very lost man again replied that he does not know. The old man said, “If you don’t know where you are and if you don’t know where you want to go, it does not really matter which direction you take. Any one will do… because you will never get ‘anywhere’ whichever way you take.”
It is sad but true that quite a number of working adults don’t really know what they want out of their careers. Many probably did not choose to be where they are career-wise but just happened to be there. Do they really know “where they are” and “where they want to go?”
People often end up in jobs that they never, in the first place, imagine themselves to be in. Many of them probably don’t like what they are doing. However they don’t quite know what to do about it and so they wish and dream. Wishing for a promotion, a job shift, a transfer, a lucky break. Yet, they do nothing except to say “Someday I’ll be…” But then, that some day never comes.
So one fine morning, after 15 years in the same job at the same company, you will wake up to find an aged and worn out person in the mirror and wonder what has happened to your life.
To achieve career growth (and happiness) it is essential that we know where we are with regards to our careers, and where we want to go. Unfortunately most do not see beyond the short term. When the question of where do they see themselves in three or five years are posed to candidates at interviews I conduct… I get blank looks, “er…” and a lot of garbled answers. People will plan for their holidays, trips or for a party but when it comes to their careers, their future… it is no-no.
If your career is not getting anywhere or if the promotion you “wished” for never seems to happen or the opportunities you “dreamt” of never seems to come knocking… chances are you don’t have clear, defined goals.
Goal-setting is not just dreaming or wishing. Dreaming and wishing are fine. They are expressions of desires that so many of us have. But to get what we want out of our careers, we need clear directions. We need a sense of purpose. We need to set goals.
Here’s a four–step approach to getting what you want out of your career.
1. Self Evaluation – Where are you now?
The central question here is “Where are you now?” We need to ask a number of others such as:
- How are you doing in your job?
- What do you like about it?
- What do you dislike about it?
- What are your strengths? What do you do well in?
- What are your weakness? What are some things you have difficulty with?
Knowing yourself, your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses are staff-off points for any career growth. As Eleanor Norton puts it, “Success is a matter of will and work. It also helps if you know who you are.”
Until and unless you know yourself well, you will not know where you will find success in your career. Obviously you will not know where to go if you do not even know where you are (or who you are).
Richard Bolles in his bestseller What Color Is Your Parachute? Says, “Your interests, wishes and happiness determine what you actually do well more than your intelligence, aptitudes or skills do… If you do work you really enjoy… you are bound to do an outstanding job.”
What you enjoy doing most will inevitably be the one you’ll do best in. Abbe Dinmet calls this “finding your own vein” – that which interest you most and that arouse your enthusiasm more than anything else.
Self evaluation is a process that can be done by careful self analysis, by seeking feedback from friends who will be honest with you or by using certain personality tests that will help identify your profile for you. The idea is to know yourself and what you do well in. Once you have “found your vein”, the next thing to know is what you want in your career.
2. Setting Goals – Where do you want to go?
Life is too short for us to spend our lives living out other people’s expectations. However, most of us do that because we are conditioned to meet other’s expectations, form a very young age. We are conditioned by our parents, teachers and society in general.
Hence, a number of us are in careers of jobs that we don’t like but are expected to be happy in because it is a “good job” and it pays well. We sink ourselves into the humdrums of the job, convincing ourselves that we will learn to live with it, and after all, “What do you expect?” We dream and wish for better things but we dare not set goals because we are afraid to fail.
Where do you want to go? What do you want for yourself in your career? Even if you are contented and happy with your career today… tomorrow will always be a new challenge for us. All organisms must grow or they will die. The same applies to us. We must always be progressing, growing because we can’t stand still, for it we do, we will stagnate and wither. It is crucial that we should identify our career goals. Goals provide focus, and only if we focus, we will achieve success easily.
There are few rules in setting career goals.
- Goals must be written. If they are not written down, we won’t feel committed. Goals in our head are still dreams and wishes. Writing them down helps you make it real.
- Goals must be specific and measurable. If you say you want a promotion soon, it is too vague a goal for you to be able to focus or to develop a plan. Definite goals produce definite results. Once it is hazy and unclear, they usually produce no results. A specific and measurable goal may be “to be promoted to sales manager in XYZ Company by January 1991.”
- Goals must be realistic and compatible. Your goals should be within reach: they must be possible. However, they should be high enough to require you to put considerable effort into them.
3. Planning – How do you get there?
Planning is asking how. How can I be a sales manager by January 1991? Planning starts with the process of listing obstacles to achievement and developing a plan to overcome them. It is necessary to list down all obstacles that exist. One must accept the fact that for growth to occur and for us to have a better career, there will always be obstacles to overcome. These are not problems… these are only challenges, and we must maintain this positive attitude.
Deadlines are prerequisites for any solution plan – it makes goal-setting motivational. It is us against time and it is us against ourselves and our normal habits of procrastination. Without deadlines, there will be very little commitment and the drive will not be there.
Get your personalize goal planning sheet to help you lay down the process for planning achievement in 2019. Easy fill it up and it will provide you with a simple blueprint for success.
4. Action – Do it now!
A plan is just a plan. Nothing happens unless action is taken. What matters and what counts is that we take steps to make our dreams come true. We may not eventually become the sales manager in January 1991 but the efforts we put in to become one moves us nearer to a better career. We may end up as an assistant sales manager but the fact is we grow as a career person and we make every day of our career a more meaningful one.
Two activities will help you move faster towards achieving your goals. The first is to know why you want that goal. If you know why you want it and if you want it badly enough, the focus and the will in you will unleash your hidden potentials and bring out the motivation within you to get what you want. Goal setting and planning is very much a self-motivation tool.
The second is to visualize achievement. There is a true story about an American pilot who was captured in Vietnam and was put into solitary confinement for five-and-a-half years. He kept himself alive and sane by visualizing himself playing golf during those years. He imagined himself as a great player. Upon his release, he played in a golf tournament (one week after his return) and came up tops.
The news media interviewed him and asked him to account for his beginner’s re-entry luck, to which he replied. “Luck? Are you kidding? I’ve never played worse over the last five-and-a-half years.”
Visualizing success begets success. If you want to be a sales manager, visualize yourself as one. Subconsciously, you entire behavior, focus and energy will be geared towards making that picture come true.
Life is a game with few players and many spectators. Those who watch are the hordes who wander through life with no dreams, no goals and no plans even for tomorrow. Do not pity them. They made their choice when they made no choice.
Now that you have read this, what is left to do but to do it now?