They rely on motivation instead of systems and processes. Frankly, I’m not huge on goals in general. In my experience, 90% of goal setting is wrong because we set goals for the wrong reason. As you’re reading this, I bet one of your career goals is to make more money next year, but are you clear on why? Will the pursuit of more money be worth the sacrifice? My goal for you is to get you in better alignment between how you uniquely produce value at your best, and what you do for income.
So, when it comes to our career goals we need a process to carve out time and focus to point ourselves in the right direction and then set up systems to make it easy, so we don’t have to rely on motivation. After all, the best plan is one you can adhere to. So here’s how I actually attack career goal setting for the beginning of a new year.
How to set career goals?
First thing first. Let’s talk about what not to do. The biggest mistake most people make with goal setting, in general, is that they fool themselves. People set goals to get a promotion or make X more dollars. In actuality, those “wants” end up becoming traps. Don’t create more traps for yourself. Instead, you need to be dead set that your goal is the right one, directionally, and for the right reasons.
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Start With What You Do Not Want
If you already know what you want, skip this step. In fact, you probably don’t need to read this article. For the rest of us who need help figuring it all out, I’ve found the fastest way we can get clarity on what we do want is to use inversion, and ask the opposite question first.
Get clear about the tasks, feelings, time sucks, and B.S. that you do not want. Write it down. Then ask what would you be willing to give up in order to eliminate those issues. Now, are you clearer about what you want? I’m betting you have different wants than when you started
Map Your Advantages
The surest way to find success is to intimately understand where you as an individual have advantages, and then figure out how to use those advantages to the best of your ability. Most career coaches either talk about strengths or passions. Making the subtle mindset shift to advantage will expand your view of yourself and your capabilities.
I believe there are 8 sources of advantage, and I teach students a discovery process to map these out. The sources of advantage are:
- How you learn
- Areas of interest
- How you take action
- How you make decisions
Explore each area, and get feedback from colleagues, friends, and peers to understand how your strengths give you advantage over others.
Pull out the common themes. Are you using all of your advantages? Which ones could you exploit in new ways? Which ones have you been ignoring? What activities give you energy vs. suck energy from you? Where are your areas for growth?
The point of career goal setting should be to get you pointed on a path towards you using your natural advantages more to unlock your creativity, motivation and your best work. When you do that well, money, success and recognition will follow.
Create Your Options Portfolio
An options portfolio is 2-5 potential paths you could explore to take action toward your long-term goal. The truth is, when you set a huge goal, you never exactly know how to get there. The path that unfolds is often not what you’d expect. When we are dealing with uncertainty, we need multiple options to make progress, try them, stick with what works and discard what doesn’t work.
For example, if your goal is to get a different job, you wouldn’t sit around all day researching the one perfect job and then apply once. To get the greatest odds of success, you’d figure out multiple ways to approach a hiring manager to get noticed. These are options.