Securing employment is hard enough as it is, and a problem for a lot of people is that once they are actually in a stable job, it becomes easy to forget about the big picture.
We all have ideas for where we want our career to go and most of us will actually spend years and years working towards that end result.
It’s easy to set goals, but it’s not that easy to achieve them. And the easiest option is to give up on those goals once you reach financial stability.
And unfortunately, for a lot of people that’s the case. They are comfortable with their career, but they’re not necessarily happy with it.
So even if you don’t achieve your goals straight away, you should be able to find satisfaction if you keep working towards them.
Here’s five tips that will help you stick to your career goals.
- Be Realistic
I’d love to say that you should just shoot for the stars and aim to be at the top of your field no matter what, but for most people that doesn’t work out.
You will set yourself up for failure if the goals that you set for yourself are not actually reachable with your abilities.
If you’re a lawyer and the only goal that you have set for yourself is to become a judge on the Supreme Court, that’s probably never going to happen.
Even if you are an extremely skilled and respected lawyer, so few people actually reach that particular milestone, that setting it as a goal will basically guarantee disappointment.
Set goals that you know can be achieved with hard work. Of course there’s never really any guarantees but you can determine what others have achieved in your position and work for that.
Know your industry inside out and know what is and isn’t a realistic goal. This will give you an idea of how you should plan for yourself.
- Prepare for Setbacks
Setbacks are a part of life. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way that we’d like them to and there’s often nothing we can do about it.
As much of an inevitability as this is, a lot of people still find themselves unprepared for it when it happens.
This can be a problem because if you allow your setbacks to affect your work. A setback can be something like not getting a promotion you wanted, not getting a raise, or losing a job entirely.
There are lots of things that can get in the way just when you think you’re on track to achieving your goals.
But just know that a setback doesn’t mean you will never get there. The key is to keep moving forward.
There’s lots of ways that you can work to overcome a career setback and maybe you’ll even have to alter your goals. But you never have to give up.
- Pair Goals with Actions
This one might not be something that you’ve thought of before, but it’s actually really effective because it gives you a specific thing to work on.
A lot of people who set goals for themselves will just decide on something that they want to have achieved within a certain time period and then just keep doing what they’re doing.
This can work out if your goals centre around moving up through an industry, but it also doesn’t give you anything to individually focus on.
Instead of just picturing where you want to be, figure out what actions you need to take to get to that place.
If you’re working in an accounting firm for example and you want to eventually run your own accounting firm, then an action there could be to sign up for a course on business management.
Assign yourself these tasks that are relevant to your overall goal, and then you can actually work on the skills that you will need once you get into that position.
- Choose Measurable goals
What I mean by this is that you should choose goals which you can track the progress of as you are working towards them.
The best way to do this is to set up a timeframe for yourself. You can look ahead to a specific point, decide on where you want to be with your career by then and keep record.
This will give the path to your goals a sense of structure which will ultimately give you a better chance of reaching them.
If you measure your progress, you can then improve it. If you’ve set a goal with a week long timeframe, once that week is over you can look back and see how you did.
If things didn’t go to plan you can figure out what you did wrong and then in the next week you can work towards changing that.
Always remember that what is measured can be improved. This attitude will increase your efficiency as you progress through your career.
- Have a Backup Plan
This is the one that nobody wants to hear, but it’s probably one of the most important tips here too.
You may eventually reach a point in your career where it becomes clear that the goals you’ve set for yourself are unattainable.
This isn’t necessarily because you can’t push yourself to work hard enough or something, but maybe it’s because the industry you’re in has changed dramatically.
Take the oil and gas industry for example. That’s an industry that’s changed because of rising technology and maybe you just don’t want your life to revolve around advanced technology.
If you enjoy your job but it’s evolving into something that you don’t enjoy, then it might be better for you to leave and try something else.
It might be a tough pill to swallow at the time, but if you have another career with a different set of goals in mind then you should be able to transition effectively.
You don’t have to actually work on your backup plan while you’re still in a thriving career, but just have one on your mind.
So in short, managing your career goals is basically an extra job in itself and as such a lot of people just don’t bother with it.
But it’s easier to achieve your goals if you are always working towards them. The trick is to not get comfortable and not lose sight of what you really want.