I am taking a few days off for Christmas, and that is a perfect time to think about career goals. Too often we go into work each day, survive the Daily Tornado, and then repeat. We don’t have time to think about the future or about our goals for growth. All we think about is staying alive. But just like any other area of life, if we just survive each day we will not make purposeful progress. You see, the days turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years and decades. We must take some time periodically to step out of the fray to reflect. But where do you start?
One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits is ‘Begin with the end in mind.’ I think that is usually good advice, so in this case you should start out with how you want to end up. At the end of your career or your life, what do you want people to say about you? What will you want to be able to say about what you have accomplished? I would call these your values.
Next, what could be some big, almost unbelievably audacious goals? These are goals that you can’t expect to accomplish any time soon. In fact, they may be goals that you never fully accomplish. But they are big, and they are important, and they will show you which way you want to be heading.
Now that you’ve identified some crazy goals, it’s time to describe some goals that you can actually meet in the near future. These goals may simply be percentages of your huge goals, or they may not seem to directly relate to them. The main thing is that they should not detract or distract from your long term goals, and they certainly must not contradict your values.
After you’ve done the hard work of figuring out your goals, then you need to start identifying Action. Goals won’t happen by osmosis. Action is required. I actually find it encouraging to write down actions that I have done in the past to help me reach my goals, as a way to get me thinking about what actions I want to start doing.
By working backwards like this we are able to figure out how to make sure that our actions are taking us closer to our goals and our values.
Our work is where we spend much of our time, where we fulfill much of our purpose, and where we can be a light to the world. Make this a year of growth at your job!
Here is a form that you can download to get you started with your brainstorming.
Printable | Career Goal Form |