Once you have clarity on the career goals you’re working towards, then you should be actively leveraging your skills and expertise to get there. Your goals don’t need to be limited to your career, they can be focused on what you want outside the realm of work like buying a house.
When I first sit down with people to discuss their careers, my first question is always, “What do you want?” This may seem obvious. And that’s because it should be.
Asking yourself, “What do I really want?” can seem a little daunting, but it is the easiest, most honest way to make sure that what you’re currently doing is the right thing for the right reasons and that it’s a step in the right direction.
I’ve previously explored the ‘myth of the perfect job’, and how in reality it doesn’t exist. No job is perfect, nor do you need to be passionate about it. More importantly you are not a failure if this is the case.
Your job should be helping you to get to where you want. In most cases, it is a means (not an end) and it should be treated as such.
Step 1: Ask yourself ‘what’?
For many of us, our goals are tied to things outside the realm of work: buying a house, supporting a family, travel, donating to a charity, setting up your own business or focusing on your health and wellness.
Prioritise your goals. Ask yourself: “What is most important to you and those closest to you?” Write them down and continue to review them.
Step 2: Ask yourself ‘how?’
If you have a good idea of what you want, the next step is to figure out what it is you are willing to do to achieve your goal.
For this particular question, I find a good starting point is to take a look at the ‘triangle of three truths’. It helps to focus on what their short-to-medium term criteria for a role might be.
Take these three career goals as examples:
Buying a house
What: I want to buy a house in the next 3-5 years and I want to save the largest deposit possible.
How: I need to focus on my earnings. This may mean that I spend less time on my interests. I might also be happy to do a job that doesn’t interest me greatly, but pays well.
Spending more time with my young family
What: I have a young family and I want to spend more time with my kids. While money is important to me, time with my family is the main goal.
How: I need to find a role that allows me to work flexibly and doesn’t require extra hours. I will try to maximise my income within this constraint.
What: I want to become a general manager as quickly as possible. This might be driven by my ambitious nature or my long-term financial plan.
How: I am willing to sacrifice my short-term income and commit to long hours to move up in an organisation.
Don’t waste time
Where some people stumble is searching for their passion, and not spending time on their goal.
Once you have clarity on the goal you’re working towards, then you should be actively leveraging your skills and expertise to get there.
Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel each time you come up with a new goal. Most people aren’t going to have dramatic career shifts in their lifetimes. Generally, there are side steps and subtle shifts that move them from goal to goal over time.