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8 Steps to Achieve Your Three Big Goals for 2017

8 Steps to Achieve Your Three Big Goals for 2017

We’re coming to the end of the year, and most would take this time to review and plan their year ahead with new year resolutions.

Do you set goals? Do you reset your new year resolutions year after year without really progressing or achieving them? Do your new goals get forgotten along the way? According to a University of Scranton study in 2014, only 8% of those who set out to achieve their New Year’s goals actually achieve them.

Let’s not just talk about new year resolutions but also the goals that we set. Why are we not achieving the goals we set? Don’t we want these goals? From both research and personal experiences, I can boldly highlight three reasons

1. We set too many goals all at once

When we set too many goals; e.g to travel more, to set up a business, to lose 10kg, to run a marathon, to be a great partner, parent or child, to get a promotion all at once, we are setting too many focus (and distractions) for ourselves and in turn, setting ourselves up for failure.

When that happens, we either tread water (no progress), take longer to reach where we want to go or we drop some of those goals that we could have achieved if we had spent more time and focus on that goal.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t have many goals. Over our lifetime, we’re bound to have goals and change goals at different stages of our lives. And the list may even grow longer over time, but what we need to focus now, is to pick one to three goals that really matter to us, that we really want to achieve and focus on right now.

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2. We don’t really want the goals we set

Have you ever set goals that you think it’d be nice to have? I have.

For many years, I had ‘practice meditation’ on my list, but I barely did it. In fact, over the last five years on my goals list, I have sat down and practised for less than five times. Each time I tried to meditate at home, I either fell asleep or hated the feeling. It just didn’t work for me. Meanwhile, I relish Yoga sessions so much that I would travel to get to the Yoga centre for that one hour of practice. Doing meditation is a means to practice consciousness and mindfulness which I can practice through other means.

As I looked back at my goals, I realised I didn’t really want some of the goals that I set for myself. We may have spent a lot of time and energy on these goals, but when we realise that we don’t really want them, these goals easily become a struggle. For instance, do you know why you want to chase that career goal, to climb up the corporate ladder, to travel more or to set up profitable businesses?

3. We set goals that are too vague or too difficult to achieve within a very short time frame

If you set mediocre goals, you will get mediocre results. If you set vague goals, you will get vague results. Be clear on what you want to achieve, with specific actions, non-negotiable schedule and set a due date that you cannot postpone.

Also, when we set goals, we want to cover as much action steps and timeline as we can and follow through. It’s great if what we complete goes accordingly to what we have planned. However, when we set goals that are too rigid, e.g to lose x kg every month without fail or to plot a progress so linear that it does not allow us to relax, take breaks or even change, sooner or later it will be a stressful burden to us.

8 Steps to Set Smart Goals and Achieve Them

With the ever-increasing uncertainties today, we all crave for certainties to some extent. Whether you set a goal to be healthy so that you won’t have to deal with hefty medical costs in future, or to set up a business so that you can live with more freedom and independence, setting and achieving our goals not only build us as individuals as we progress and grow but we also gain confidence and empowerment when we achieve our goals. When we achieve what we set out to be, we are more motivated to do more and be more, because we know we can.

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1. Write Your Goals Down

It seems simple and basic, but there are many who either sets no goals or those who set goals in their head. Over time, as we get busy and distracted, we tend to forget these goals that we set earlier on.

2. Pick 1 – 3 Goals that Really Matter to you

Pick goals that you really want to achieve, not what feels or looks nice to have, not what you should be achieving.

3. Know WHY you Want to Achieve these Goals

It should not be for anyone else but yourself. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want that promotion? What is your motivation in wanting to start that business?

4. Break these Few Important Goals down into Smaller Actions with a Specific Timeline

Have an action list for each goal with a set due date. And, break these actions further into really small baby steps. In fact, some coaches suggest that you break your goals into steps so simple that you can do it immediately.

5. Post your Goals and Actions Steps somewhere Visible

Making your goals, the whys and the actions steps visible not only reminds you of what you want to achieve, it also allows you to review and track your progress.

6. Act on Them

No actions = no progress. All the planning and brainstorming may feel like a productive and fulfilling exercise, but you won’t reach your goal with just planning. You have to take action.

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7. Track Your Progress

Make an appointment with yourself on a regular basis to review your progress. If you find weekly reviews too time-consuming, you can always do it monthly or quarterly.

Be conscious of how you set your due date. When we set goals for ourselves, we tend to be ambitious and want to achieve the most in the least amount of time. When we don’t see results, it is easy to give up. Set actions steps that are realistic, that you can do, pace yourself and do within your limits.

If you find yourself unable to progress because you lack some skills or experiences, go out there and get these knowledge, skills and experiences.

8. Get Feedback on Your Progress

Sometimes we may feel stuck even when we have taken a lot of actions. It helps to have support groups or people you trust who can provide you honest feedback, give you comments and motivate you to do better.

Be careful of who you share your motivation and feedback with, though. Stay way from naysayers or negative people who are always difficult. No amount of persuasion or justification will prove you right even if you are right.

Conclusion

The above steps are really what many would tell you to do on SMART goal setting. i,e, set Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-based. But this also incorporates the SMARTER Goal Setting method to include Evaluation and Review as well.

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While we may be anxious to achieve our goals, we have to learn to be patient and be willing to try. Also be willing to fail. When you fail, don’t be quick to give up and say you are not cut out for it or you won’t be successful.

The most successful people don’t only depend on skills or talents or experiences, they also persevere a lot. That’s what separates people who achieve their goals and people who don’t.

Meanwhile, enjoy the journey and don’t forget to celebrate your milestones.

Featured photo credit: Pablo via pablo.buffer.com

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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