Goal setting remains one of the most talked about aspects of a new year. What’s often not talked about is the importance of owning your development for the life of your career, not just for the position you’re in. Many professionals try to connect goals with their near term aspirations only and fail to plan for the future because it’s so unpredictable.
Unconventional thinking can help overcome this problem. A simple but custom approach to goal setting involves knowing yourself and setting goals for your current position and setting goals for the life of your career. But knowing yourself and setting multiple goals is not enough, you need to anticipate and plan for change—this means being prepared to adapt. You may set yourself up for less than ideal results and unnecessary stress if you fail to anticipate change and be proactive.
A significant part of the process involves using an approach tailored to your needs—effective goal setting should be unique to you. These are the aspects I use to guide my development, increase client success and achieve measurable results.
You are better positioned to set realistic goals if you understand your values, strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities. These aspects will most likely change over time so periodic review may be beneficial. Numerous tools exist that can help you learn more about yourself. Alumni associations, workforce development organizations or other online resources often provide the related assessments at no charge. Your values inform your motivation. Understanding what really motivates you can help you achieve even the most challenging goals.
Identify what you would like to achieve in both the short term and in your longer term career by writing down anything you really want to achieve. You must write down your aspirations for this process to be effective. The sky is truly the limit here—make note of what you really want! Take a few minutes and consider all of the possibilities that appeal to you.
Prioritize by Time Period
Next reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and assign a time frame to what you identified during the brainstorming. Be realistic but not afraid to challenge yourself! Meaningful development often occurs during our most challenging experiences. Recognize what you want to achieve during the next year or two in your current position and include time frames of three, five and ten years for your longer term career aspirations. You should focus on making progress in your current role while simultaneously preparing yourself for your future. You may need to begin working on longer term goals in as little as the next one to three years depending upon your aspirations, circumstances and resources.
Commit and Take Action
Commitment is the key to successful goal setting. You can set inspirational goals but quickly become overwhelmed or scale back your activities if you lack the appropriate amount of commitment. Only you can bring the level of commitment needed to achieve your goals. Your spouse, coach or counselor cannot do it for you—you must own it!
Include written action steps with time frames to support your goals. It may not be necessary for you to set goals related to your current position independent of your employer. Consider their input and if needed, create stretch or other goals to position you to achieve want it is that you want to achieve in your role in addition to the goals they set for you.
Keep in mind that you may not achieve the goals you set—you may instead achieve other goals that you never formally set. Celebrate progress, stay motivated and remember that you have the power to take the action necessary to keep moving ahead!
Remaining aware of the forces that have the potential to impact change in industries and economies better position you to develop forward thinking goals that best align with your strengths, aspirations and market needs. Owning your development and being adaptable may be the most important aspects that impact your ability to set and accomplish your goals on a regular basis, in spite of economic conditions.
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