Achieving success be it professionally or personally is something, everyone aspires to. When you first start out thinking about your career at high school or in college you think not only about the type of career you might want but where it might take you.
This may change along the way when a little dose of reality kicks in but chances are you have goals nonetheless and you always have done. So whether you want to be a top criminal defense lawyer, a freelance pro, or the latest Michelin star chief here are some ways in which you can achieve your next career goals.
Know your career goal
For some people, they know exactly what they want and how they will get there but unfortunately, it is not that easy for everybody. Before you can even think about trying to achieve the career goals you need to know exactly what they are. Can you define your dream job? And can you clearly explain your goals within that job?
When it comes to defining your career goals you need to be specific. If you have a vague or loose goal how will you know where to start when trying to bring it to fruition? For example ‘get promoted’ sounds like a good goal but it is not specific or helpful when it comes to realizing that goal. You need to specify that goal in greater detail and crucially with a time constraint, for example
Obtain a promotion, or role with more [responsibility….remuneration...satisifcation] in….[insert industry here]….within the [next 12 months]. This is my goal because [......]
The second goal is much more specific and can help give you aims and targets to work toward, aims that are important to you. If you want to earn more money then you have to be specific about it, this will enable you to only take the steps that will further your goal. If you want more responsibility then this needs to be included within your planned target. You can be as specific as you like when it comes to defining your goals. Include as much detail as possible, such as what it would mean for other aspects of your life? What your day-to-day might look like, how you would commute? Where you would work. There is no detail too small. Having a clearly specified goal will help you be able to identify what is important to you and why and in turn will allow you to make decisions and take actions best suited to realizing your goals.
Visualize or write it down
Once you have a clear and specific goal the next thing to do is to either write it down or visualize it. The option you choose will depend on your personality and what you respond to best, or you could do both.
Firstly start by writing your goals down. Although it may seem like an unnecessary fad putting your goals into words can make a huge difference. It will force you to define the goals you have identified and it will allow you to elaborate on them and establish them in as much detail as possible. They will not just be ideas floating around in your head but specific measurable goals that you have committed to paper (or screen), consider it a contract with yourself. Once you have written your goals down put them somewhere that you will see every day, somewhere that will serve as a visual reminder of the actions and steps you need to take to make these goals a reality. Studies have shown that by writing down your goals they are up to 45% more likely to happen.
If you don’t consider yourself to have a way with words then try to visualize your goals. Use pictures or imagery to motivate yourself and spark your imagination. A great way to do this is by creating a mood board that serves as your desktop background every time you log on. If your goal is to work in a certain location, have images of that location, or if you want to be able to afford certain things, have pictures of those items. Use pictures or images that symbolize what you want to achieve. This method works so well because images can spark emotions and by looking at these images daily you begin to connect an emotion or feeling with these images that can create powerful inspiration or motivation for realizing your goals.
Break it down into small steps
Now that you have your specific and time-sensitive goal you will need to work out how you are going to get there. You may have a long-term goal that involves you becoming CEO, for example, but you need to know the steps you need to take to get there. What positions do you need to fill along the way? What experience do you need? You also need to consider the roles and responsibilities you have to take on to be able to perform the long-term goal. Do you need to gain managerial experience? Do you need to expand on a certain skill set? Think about the steps you can now take to achieve the smaller short-term goals to enable the overall goal.
For example, if you need a certain experience you could discuss this with your current manager to determine whether there are any opportunities available. Alternatively, your next job search should only be for positions that fulfill your short-term goals. Perhaps you need a certain skill, can this be achieved within the workplace or would a stint of volunteering or even returning to the classroom help?
Having your goals clearly defined and written down will enable you to break them down into smaller more manageable goals that all serve the purpose of attaining your overall career aspirations. What is more making and taking small manageable and measurable steps will provide you with a sense of achievement and fulfillment each time you achieve a goal, however small. If they are measurable goals (which they should be) you will know when you have achieved them and this will provide great motivation and dedication for pursuing your longer-term goals.
Have an action plan
Now you know your goals and you have identified the steps you need to take to get there, you need a plan. This plan needs to be practical and specific.
For example, going back to the long-term goal of becoming a top attorney, your short-term goals may include, achieving a high success rate, working for a particular firm, or in a particular niche, and as such your action plan will include the practicalities of achieving these goals.
Make a list of all of the resources you have and need, people you know who may be able to assist you in taking the next steps for example. Can you work with someone on a particular case to gain more experience? Can you network to uncover potential career moves? Are there online tools that could help you? Jobsites, resume assistance, testimonials regarding your work, diversity in the cases you manage, or specialization in the cases manage?
Identify and list the resources available to help you and use them to create an action plan that will help bring about your short-term goals. Follow this plan diligently and measure the success each time you take a step closer to achieving your short and longer-term goals.
Sometimes to get what you really want you to have to take risks in order to get it. It may be scary or daunting but the payoff is worth it. Risk doesn’t have to mean you risk losing it all rather that it is something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, something that you might not ordinarily do. Trying something new is the best way to enable growth.
If at first, you don’t succeed… you know the saying. Just because you have clearly defined and measurable goals does not mean you won’t get knocked back along the way. You may not get the job you have been interviewing for or you may be overlooked for a promotion, it happens but the important thing is to not give up. Not everything falls into place immediately and some of the most successful people in the world have had knockbacks, possibly more than others, you just don’t stop. Pick yourself up and try again. Persistence will win out eventually.
Find a good mentor
This is not necessarily your manager or superior a good mentor could be anyone. It is someone who can give you an outside perspective on your career and on the steps you are taking. They can help by providing guidance or support, they can be there to talk things through with you and bounce ideas off of. A mentor can be found in a personal relationship, it could be someone you are close to personally or it could be a professional one. You can even hire professional mentors or life coaches who quite literally make it their business to help you achieve your success.