When it comes to success, most of us share at least two things in common: We’d like to get ahead, but we’re not totally sure how. According to career expert and Job Success Lab found Lea McLeod, the first step is setting goals.
“Setting and achieving meaningful career goals provides three essential career nutrients: increased job satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and improved quality of your life,” McLeod writes in “How to Set Ambitious Career Goals You Can Realistically Accomplish,” a fantastic post for the website Daily Muse.
So how do you set those goals? Read on for a summary of McLeod’s advice.
1. Make Your Objectives Clear — It’ll be much easier to reach your final destination if you know what the place looks like. Pull out that proverbial crystal ball and think about what your dream position looks like. What’s the company like? Who are you working alongside, and what are you doing? Visualize your idea of success and get ready to chase it.
2. Be Realistic — It’s entirely possible your dream job requires some skills you don’t have at the moment. That’s OK. There’s time for you to acquire them, but acknowledge that personal and professional growth are going to be part of the journey. Do your research and talk with people in the industry and begin positioning yourself for the great things you’ve envisioned.
3. Stay Committed — According to McLeod, the No. 1 reason people fail is that they’re just not committed to their goal. So how do you avoid this? “You get commitment only when you are convinced that the goal is important to you and that it’s attainable,” she writes. Believe you’ll get there and share your dreams with others, so that you’ll have some accountability for your progress.
4. Don’t Go It Alone — Feedback is absolutely vital, and this is where it pays to have a mentor. Find yourself someone you can meet with regularly to discuss your goals and share the progress you’re making. This will keep you feeling motivated, and each time you take another step closer, you’ll enjoy a sense of accomplishment.
5. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself — It all comes back to being realistic. In a perfect world, you’d devote yourself to making five new contacts a week, or learning three new skills. But your time is limited, and you’ve got to have patience. Otherwise, you’ll get burned out. Set intermediate objectives that allow you to move forward at a pace you’re comfortable with. Create conditions for success, as McLeod puts it, and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it.