Deciding on a career to set you and your family up for the future can be a scary thing. It is something that many people put pressure on. If you are one of these people, stop, breathe, and assess. The first thing you should do is create a game plan! This may be easier said than done. If you are at the point in your life where you are frustrated with your progress, creating a plan can be difficult. So, where do you start?
Step 1: Visualize
- Where do you want to be or what do you want to achieve in the next 5 years?
- The professional title you desire.
- Projects or tasks you would like to take on or manage.
- How you prefer to spend your time or how many hours you intend to commit to per week.
- What makes YOU happy. (Focus on your passions and what your ideal workday would be like)
Step 2: Identify Skills and Experience
- What skills do you need to develop or improve on to realistically take on those projects you previously visualized?
- What project(s) or opportunities could you currently engage in to help you craft those skills or gain experience?
- What new skills could you learn that would give you a leg up on other candidates you may face in the future?
- Explore job descriptions in the field you want.
- Search LinkedIn for titles you would desire and dive deeper into their work history or profile.
- Connect with professionals in the field for career specific advice.
Step 3: Create SMART Goals
S: Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
M: Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
A: Achievable (attainable)
R: Relevant (reasonable, realistic, results-based)
T: Time-bound (time-based, time-sensitive)
Why are SMART goals important? They help you to narrow down and map out both short & long goals. SMART goals also help you to not focus on everything all at once or become easily overwhelmed. Think about what you need to focus on today, tomorrow, next week and so on, to help guide and prepare you for that long term goal.
The final step is to take all this information and create your plan to action. Now that you have narrowed down more specific thoughts, outline the steps you need to take to make these larger goals a success. Stay diligent in following your plan and eventually you will start to feel the fire and purpose that you were looking for. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Whether you are starting from scratch on a new path or looking to advance on the one you’re already on, defining your career goals is an important first step to achieving the success you’ve been craving.