We know how to use maps to get from point A to point B. When it comes to professional goals, however, many people find themselves struggling to advance.
Are you trying to plan the next move in your career? Will you know when it’s time to take a leap? Are there any tools that can help you navigate your professional life? What kind of road map helps you get to where you want to go in your career?
Before heading off on a grand adventure, it helps to know where you’re going.
If you were to poll university graduates about their goals, (or most working professionals) many would include some variation of being ‘successful’ as a target.
While this is an admirable goal, it is the geographical equivalent of saying “up north.”
Without further specifics, the traveler is left to their own devices to determine if they’ve reached the final destination. To prevent this from happening in your professional life, define the end-goal.
What does success look like to you? Your definition of success may look different than it does to others. You may consider success being able to take four weeks of vacation every year. Success may mean you are able to lead a global team. Until you know what success means to you, however, you’ll have a hard time deciding if you’ve arrived.
Now that your destination is clear, spend time evaluating what it will take to get there.
Do you need specific training and certifications? Look for opportunities to acquire the skills and education that you will need to reach your goals. What are the qualifications for the job you want? Begin a systematic approach to gaining the skills you need for the job you want. Read journals, attend seminars, sign up for training events or look for other avenues to gain skills.
Work backwards. Find the role you want for yourself in the future and start working on those qualifications.
Use goal-setting to help create checkpoints along the way.
No one reaches success alone. Be on the search to seek out mentors, advisors, and industry leaders who can help you as you journey through your career.
Mentors can shorten your learning curve and help you master the skills you need sooner. They can be another resource for direction and can offer encouragement as needed.
No road is without its own set of difficulties. Route changing events can (and often do) happen. The same is true for careers. You may get laid off from your job, markets can change, personal matters may take priority. Being proactive about looking for potential roadblocks can help you avoid setbacks and reach your final destination.
Very few successful people credit their success to doing what everyone else did. The greatest success stories generally involve a variation of, “Everyone told me I was crazy, but I did it anyway.” Don’t be afraid to try an alternative route on your journey. You never know where it may lead you.
On most trips, the journey is part of the excitement. Don’t miss out on the enjoyment you can have along the way. Embrace the journey and appreciate the hard work and effort you are making to get to your definition of success.
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