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Remember when you were a kid playing games with your friends and something unexpected would go wrong and you would ask for a “do-over”? Most of us start our careers with a goal in mind. Whether it is CEO, Head of IT or Retail Sales Manager, we think we know what we want. Sometimes it does not work out as planned.
Stuff happens along the way and we lose focus, get stuck in a dead-end job or can’t seem to find the right opportunities. But no matter what your dreams are, it’s never too late to make changes to your approach to your career and get a fresh start on your goals.
People restart or refocus their careers all of the time, perhaps a program such as an RN to BSN online program. Some are successful, but most are not. Some of the key factors that determine success are a solid plan and commitment to get it done. Your goals do need to be reasonable and achievable. Once you make the decision to “reboot” your career and start the process, you will start to see the impact.
Before you can begin to plan and achieve your career goals, you need to take a self-assessment. This only works if you are honest with yourself. Following are a few examples of what you should consider when starting your self-assessment:
- Where are you on your career path? Just started, 5 years in, etc.
- What have you accomplished in your career and your job(s).
- How do you perceive yourself?
- How confident are you in your abilities and skills?
- If you could start over and do something different in your career, what would that be?
- If you could acquire/learn new skills, what would they be?
- How do you feel about your career? Did you make the right career choice?
- Where are you most comfortable working? In teams? Working on your own?
- What motivates you?
- Have you taken the Myers-Briggs personality test (take a look at The Myers and Briggs Personality Test)
A key component of managing your career is managing your time. Work/Life balance (focused, committed time on your career as well as your personal life and family) is key to success for your career and your personal life. Planning helps, and this includes periodic “tasks” such as educational development (reading up on key aspects in your career) and “family night” (setting dates to do stuff with your significant other, friends and family). Consider the following:
- Plan some “down time” where you can do anything you want (or nothing).
- Set aside time to work on your career and your career plan. Regularly scheduled sessions (alone or with others) work best.
- Prioritize your work at the start of each day (most important tasks first). If you are unclear which tasks are more important, ask your manager to help.
- Start one thing and finish it. Starting multiple tasks will cause you to lose focus and 5 started tasks are not as good as 1 or more completed tasks. This is true for your personal life and your career.
If you really struggle with this you should look into courses that help with diary management. Remember this is a learned skill, not something people are born with.
Learn to say no to additional work if you feel overwhelmed or if it forces you to give up a personal event. Again, ask your manager to help prioritize any new tasks that will interfere with you completing work already assigned.
David Allen’s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business books of its era, and the ultimate book on personal organization.
Develop Your Networks:
Leveraging your networks is another important task when attempting to achieve your career goals. And, whether you think you do or not, everyone has a network.
- Your personal networks (this is really the people you spend the most time with outside of work.
- Take the time to make a list of your friends, family current/former coworkers for your network list.
- Make an effort to meet at least one new person a week. These should be people who have something in common with you in terms of your career or job. This can be at an event that you attend or even a business meeting or a job conference
- Maintaining your network is also key. As you build your network, you need to work on maintaining the contacts you have made. Send an email or call every so often to see how they are doing.
- Utilize your network in a way that allows people to make recommendations without putting too much pressure on them if they are uncomfortable in doing so. Make sure your linkedin account is active and updated. Add your contacts to your Google+ and Facebook accounts.
Virtually all job hunting experts agree that networking is the best way to find a great job. But most people don't have connections to the decision-makers who do the hiring.
Have a Vision for Your Career:
What do you want to be when you grow up? Knowing the end game, where you want to go, is an important part of achieving your goals. If you know where you want to go, you are well on your way to your goals.
“Goal-setting techniques are used by successful people in all fields. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure your progress and continuously motivate yourself to progress toward the vision you have for your ideal work life. You will be able to see forward movement in what might otherwise feel like a long, pointless grind. By setting and taking action toward your goals, you will raise your self-confidence.” – Berkeley.edu
Know What You Need to Change:
If you’ve done the self-assessment from step 1, now it’s time to do a skills assessment. You have your own views as to what you are good at (and you are probably right), but what about the stuff you don’t know about (which can be key in your career goals). Take a look at Aptitude Tests.
Know Your End Game:
Know what you need to achieve your career goals. If it’s one or more promotions, make sure you know the requirements
The questions you’ll face at a job interview are anything but typical yes/no questions, so you want to make sure you’re mentally ready to go into as much detail as possible about your experience and the industry.Tweet This
Practice Makes Perfect:
Focus on the skills you would like to improve or learn.
- Take courses at night school or online
- earn an advanced degree
- Learn more about your industry
- Attend industry conferences
- Read industry periodicals
- Visit your college or university career office (yes, even if you’ve graduated)
One of the biggest career obstacles is understanding and practicing the key success factors that will help you maximize your career goals. Making a difference in your company and industry as well as becoming a motivating force in your workplace will help you bring it to the next level. Managing to enjoy your job and make an impact at the same time requires a drive and commitment that takes intense focus. Examining the online profiles of a number of successful executives and trendsetters often reveals what it takes to get to the top of the success ladder.
No matter who you are or whom you know, your career will have its ups and downs. Make a plan using the seven steps to achieve your career goals.