There are lots of reasons why people struggle with achieving their career goals. Often it is due to a lack of clarity, direction, and focus. When we look at the big picture of what needs to be done to get from point A (where you are now) to point Z (the end result), we can become overwhelmed and paralyzed about where to begin. Good goal setting clearly defines the beginning, middle and end with clear actions; by breaking goals down into smaller achievable actions, we can see what needs to be done. The difficult question, of course, what is your long-term goal?
Once you have identified your long-term goal, you must then look at tackling your short-term goals. This will bring greater clarity, direction, and focus that will drive you to succeed. By breaking up your long-term goal into active steps that can be completed, you help yourself progress without feeling overwhelmed. Want to learn a language? Instead of focusing on the steep learning curve and the years of practice that it requires, focus on practicing five new phrases each day for at least thirty minutes. Then with each consecutive day, these minutes will add to hours, which will add to days and then to months. Everything becomes clearer as a result and your focus is strengthened as you start to identify the actions that you need to support you along the way.
My clients create a yearly plan, quarterly plans, monthly plans and weekly plans that strategize their goals. The yearly plan identifies long-term goals. The quarterly plan breaks these long-term goals into shorter 3-month periods. The monthly and weekly plans break these goals down further into hyper-concise actionable steps.
For example, many students who attend law school have no idea what type of law they want to pursue after graduation. Often, they understand that law school is a financially stable career path, but they do not have specific passions for a specific law sector. Your first goal then becomes to identify the types of law that interest you. Your first set of actions needs to be around research and exploration around law career interests. You can start by researching types of law careers online. Next, you can take the Strong Interest Inventory. The Strong Interest Inventory is a career interest inventory used in career counseling to help people gain insight and clarity around career interests.
Here’s a brief example plan:
Long Term Goals:
- Establish a career in law
- Career Exploration
- Job Search
- Research and explore types of law careers online.
- Take the Strong Interest Inventory to identify career interests.
- Identify and create a list of firms or organizations that employ lawyers specializing in your area of interest.
- Network. Don’t limit yourself to only lawyers. Talk to people about your interests and pursuits who may also have connections or information about jobs that you may be a good fit.
- Clean up your resume to reflect your experience, skills, and pursuits of interest. Hire a resume writer.
- Create a list of hiring decision makers in organizations from the list. Apply to organizations identified in the list.
- Work on gaining experience through internships or other activities related to your field of interest.
Now that you have created a strategic plan around your goals, your questions will start to be answered as you begin to view your future through a new perspective with greater clarity. Without a doubt, goals seem less overwhelming when they are broken down into clear, visible steps. So take those first baby steps. Don’t fret about the long journey ahead. As the old adage goes, you’ve got to learn to walk before you run.
Kristen A Tolbert is the Founder of Career CoLabs, Author of Careers Reinvented, and Co-Founder and Facilitator of Neuro at Work – Leadership and Workplace Intelligence Programs. Kristen’s programs serve a global clientele via live seminars and in online classrooms. Learn more about her programs at careercolabs.com.