September 10, 2008

Tips for Success: Goal Setting

Every Tuesday, the blog at JobMonkey will discuss tips and hints for making the most of your job search. We welcome input from our readers and want to hear about the job hunting issues that challenge for you the most. To get a crash course on Career Planning 101, check out JobMonkey’s section on The Job Search.

Time management guru Brian Tracy says, " Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement." Whatever it is that you want to achieve in life (and even if you have no idea what that is yet), you won’t get there without having some goals.

Goals are instrumental in helping you:

– To stay focused on what’s really important
– To remember your values and priorities
– To motivate when the going gets tough
– To control your own destiny
– To acknowledge your accomplishments and redirect when you get off-track
– To have a sense of purpose, a personal mission

Sounds great, right?  But how do you begin setting goals when the possibilities seem so infinite and the variables so vast? 

Start by thinking about goals as multi-step processes, rather than way-off-in-the-distant finish lines.

The finish line goal is the long-term one.  Let’s say that’s becoming a filmmaker (or working for the government or a dude rancher.)

Whatever that finish-line goal is, you will need to measure your journey by the small steps (aka short-term goals) you take along the way. Those short-term goals might be about finishing school, landing a summer job or internships, working with a mentor or apprenticing with someone in your field. Maybe you need to read more or network with other professionals.

Try thinking about goal-setting as a triangle.  At the top is your long-term goal. But immediately underneath that are all the other goals you will need to check off. And those goals are the foundation and body of your career — without them, you won’t be able to reach the peak, the finish line.

I know for me, it’s very easy to get caught up in the idealism of the finish line. But filling in the rest of the triangle can be a lot harder.  I force myself to sit down with a pad of paper, a pen and steaming cup of tea. Once I get it all down on paper, I can start to prioritize. All of a sudden, I have a road map to my success.  Which means that even with life gets messy or priorities change, I can check back in with myself and figure out a logical next step.  I’m more purposeful and my career is on track.

What do you think? Does that make sense and jibe with your own experience?  What are your suggestions for setting career goals?

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