How many people have clearly defined career goals? Unfortunately the answer to that question is not many at all! Do you have clearly defined career goals that you review regularly? If your answers to these questions are no, you should really consider taking the time to clearly define your career goals. Career goals are critical because they act as a destination for our professional lives. Think about it this way, when you get into your car to drive somewhere, do you have a selected destination or do you just start driving nowhere? Of course you have a destination or at least I hope you do! Now if you are familiar with the area you are driving towards, it will be easier to get there, but even if you haven’t been there before, as long as you have an address you’ll find a way to get there (GPS, Google Maps,etc.). How can you get where you’re going if you don’t know where you want to go?????
In order to set clearly defined goals, start by asking yourself a few open ended questions just to get the creative juices flowing:
-Where am I going?
-Why am I going there?
-How can I get there?
When answering these questions, do so in a brainstorming format where you sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write any and all responses to these questions that pop into your head. Whether it is full sentences, phrases, or even just words, write everything down. Use the results of this activity to list your primary long term career goals.
Once you have this list, the next step should be visualizing these goals. Doing what? Yes visualizing them. This is an extremely important step in helping you to achieve your goals. When you visualize a goal you should make the visualization as clear and detailed as possible. For example, let’s say my goal is to become president of the company that I work for. I would visualize what my office will look like, a corner office on the 10th floor with a view of the city. I will have a nice big desk, comfortable chair and a separate meeting table with 4 chairs. I will visualize myself meeting with my Executive team at this conference table in my office.
Do you see what I am doing here? I am painting a picture of the end result of my goal which is only going to increase the chances of me reaching those goals. In essence you are already there in your mind, now you will do what you have to do be there in reality. I know sometimes from a corporate perspective this may sound like a waste of time, but this is such an important step that should not be overlooked. When in doubt, remember thoughts become things!
Now that you have clearly defined long term goals, it’s time to develop your short term goals that will provide you with stepping stones to your long term goals that you have envisioned. Utilize the following process or whichever parts of it are most useful for you in planning out your career goals:
– Define the goal being as specific as possible,
– List the benefits you will enjoy from achieving the goal – really explore this one and describe the benefits in detail as the more benefits, the more motivation for you to achieve the goal,
– List some action steps that you will need to take to achieve the goal (i.e. if your goal was to get your Professional Engineer’s License, one step may be to sign up for a review course or purchase a study guide),
– Attach a time deadline to the goal, is it a one year goal, two year goal, 5 year goal? From time to time check in and see if you are on pace to meet your deadlines, if not you may need to adjust your deadline, but don’t just keep pushing them off. If you find that you are continually pushing this goal off, ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it for you to achieve this goal?
– List the names of anyone that you think you may need assistance from in reaching that specific goal and then contact and utilize these resources in however they might help you.
Now that you have a list of your clearly defined goals it’ a good idea to prioritize them as you see fit. The last thing you should do is once you reached one of your goal deadlines, review your progress. So, one year from now review the progress of your one year goals. If you have achieved some or all of them, celebrate! No seriously, treat yourself to a night out or a weekend away as you have worked hard to set and achieve the goal and you should take the time to appreciate it. If there are goals you have not reached, ask yourself, “What is holding me back from reaching this goal?” Another way to look at it is to review what some of the key steps you took in achieving your other goals and try to apply the same principles to goals that you have yet to achieve.
The above is an excerpt from my full Career-Biz Booster Program E-report.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success