When was the last time you thought about your career goals – beyond get paid more or aim vaguely for the next promotion?
There’s a saying ‘a goal without a deadline is just a dream’ and no where is this more true than when thinking about your career. I admit, it might not seem the most exciting way to spend an hour, but imagine waking up on a Monday a few months from now, and knowing you are about to smash a presentation, ace your next promotion, or hand in a major project to great acclaim? Worth a couple of hours of your time now, right?
So grab a cup of tea / coffee / something stronger, block out some time where you will be undisturbed, and have a think about what you want to achieve over the next few months – is it a promotion? A new role? The first step in a new direction?
And now, if you feel comfortable (and you’re somewhere private!), close your eyes and get into that goal – what will it feel like? Look like? How will you be acting? What will you doing? Write down as much detail as you can, and keep your notes somewhere safe.
At this point, when you know roughly where you are heading, think about the first few steps. If the goal is a biggie, breaking it down into small, manageable steps makes it much more likely that you will achieve it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t plan out all the steps you need to do to complete the whole goal - just setting out the first few will be enough to get you going, and once you have achieved these, you’ll be fired up, and ready to set the next few! This approach, these mini-goals, are your stepping stones, your little wins that will take you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
Now, with these mini goals in mind – look to make each one SMARTER. This process will maximize your chance of success. Each mini goal should be:
Specific – your goal should be something you can put your finger on, a positive tangible outcome. E.g. instead of “I want to get a promotion”, the goal would read “I will talk to 3 managers to find out what I need to do to get a promotion.”. If your goal is more emotions / feelings based, then try to be as specific as possible with the situation – for example, “I would like to feel confident in giving the presentation on 3rd September”
Measurable – how will you know when you achieve your goal? Will it be a feeling? A number on a piece of paper? Getting the information you need to apply for the promotion? For the less tangible goals, really think about what will demonstrate to you that you have achieved your goal – how will you know when you are feeling more confident – what will you be doing / saying? Make sure you write this down!
Achievable – goals should be testing, but not out of the realms of possibility. For example, talking to 3 managers to understand what you need to do to get a promotion is possible, but talking to the CEO about what they are looking for is maybe less possible!
Relevant – Why do want your goal? What is important to you about it? What will it give you? If you set goals that conflict with the rest of your life, you are likely to end up frustrated and discouraged i.e. if you value freedom, focusing on getting a promotion that comes with a 3-year job contract may not leave you feeling fulfilled.
Timely - When do you want to achieve each mini goal by? Put a mark on the calendar and hold yourself accountable. If you feel comfortable doing so, share this with a friend, or find a supportive community (for example, The Returnity Lounge facebook group!) to share the journey with, and so that they can follow up with you at key points, and give you a nudge if things get tough.
Evaluated – at periodic intervals (e.g. weekly or monthly) grab a coffee and have a look at your goals and how you are doing – are they still relevant? Have you achieved what you set out to achieve? If you are bored by your goal, maybe you need to flex it so that it stretches you a little more!
Rewarded – The best bit! Before you embark on your goal, have a think about a suitable reward, both for each mini goal, and the overall end goal. For the smaller ones, may be a nice coffee on the way to work, and for the big goal – maybe doing something special with friends or family? The thought of the reward will help motivate you if you find your willpower failing.
Personally, I always have a rethink about my goals at the start of September – there is something about the new school year feeling that still resonates with me!
Hopefully, reading through the above has given you some pointers on how to reframe your goals, and how you can start to achieve what you put your mind to.
If you’d like to discuss goal setting in more detail, please contact me here and we can arrange a chat. I also run a free facebook group for women looking to change or develop their careers, so if this has sparked your interest, please come over and join us at The Returnity Lounge.