You have a dream of where you want to be in your career, but you are afraid that you might not be able to get there. You don’t want to wake up five years from now in the same spot that you are now. What steps can you take to ensure that you will achieve your career goal?
Make your goal specific. If you are trying to work with a vague goal, then you are setting yourself up for failure. It is very difficult to work towards a general goal, such as: “To get a job that uses my skills.” or, “To get a position that makes me happy.” or even, “To get a job in the marketing field.”. These types of goals do not allow you to make a concrete plan. In some cases, you may not even be able to determine whether or not you have achieved your goal. Your career goal needs to be tangible and clear. For example: “An analytical chemist position at a pharmaceutical company”, or “An entry level position in the marketing department of a non-profit organization.” Think about it like a road map. You need to know exactly where you want to go in order to have any hope of reaching your destination.
Write down your goal and share it with your friends and family. When you write down a goal and discuss it with your friends and family, you automatically increase your commitment to that goal. You become accountable to yourself and others. Your friends and family will be able to motivate you, and even assist you in other ways. Allow the people around you to be a part of your plan. They will be happy to be included, and it is much easier than struggling on your own.
Break down your goal into steps and tasks. When you look at your goal, it may feel like an enormous endeavour that you will never be able to achieve. It you feel this way, break your goal down into smaller (and more manageable) tasks. This way, you will have the satisfaction of ticking tasks off your list as you complete them. This allows you to actually see your progress. Otherwise, you may start to feel like you are working hard, but you aren’t actually getting anywhere.
Work on your goal everyday. In order to stay motivated, it is best if you work on your goal a little bit each day. This keeps you active and engaged. This persistent effort also increases your likelihood of success. You may be tempted to work like crazy on your goal for one day, and then take a week off. Don’t fall into that trap. If the effort that you put towards your goal is inconsistent, you will be more likely to lose interest and give up.
Keep a close eye on your level of motivation, and make changes as needed. If you find that your motivation is waning, take a step back and examine why. Are you genuinely interested in this particular career goal? Do you feel that you are capable of achieving your goal? Do you feel like your efforts are getting results? Try to determine the source of the problem, and take the necessary steps to fix it. It could be as simple as needing encouragement, or you may need to change your strategy, or even your goal entirely. If your motivation doesn’t improve, you will be unlikely to succeed, and are probably wasting your time. Take it as a strong warning sign and address the issue.
Don’t allow your career goal to turn into a pipe dream. You are in charge of your own future. Take control, work hard, and make it what you want it to be.
(Written by Karen Bivand)