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10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

There’s nothing like the feeling of starting a job you love and going to work every day feeling excited and challenged. But what happens when a job that started out as a great step towards building a flourishing career takes a nose dive?

Suddenly, the song You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling becomes your new theme (not the cool Top Gun version covered by Maverick and Goose) and you feel unsure about your current career path.

When your job becomes just “a job,” a lot of things happen that you may not even realize. It can cause you to turn into a completely different person from the wide-eyed bushy tailed professional you were at the beginning of your career. You not only lose sight of your initial goals, but also jeopardize the future of your career without even knowing it.

Here are some warning signs that your job is ruining your career.

1. You are no longer excited about starting new projects.

Taking on new projects is a great way to learn and display leadership in your job. If you find that another project just means more work for you that’s not worth the kudus or mediocre salary, it may be a sign that you’ve withdrawn from your job.

Once you start losing interest in what you do, it will show and negatively impact your career.

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2. You are just going through the motions.

If wake up, go to work, drink coffee, answer emails, and go home sounds like your typical day, then there’s something missing: your active participation. Are you just getting through the day and can do your job with your eyes closed?

If the answer is “yes” then it’s time to reevaluate your job. A job where you just go through the motions without much thought is great if you’re a robot, but you’re not.

It’s important to have a job that challenges you daily and keeps your brain sharp or else you risk losing your ability to generate career-enhancing ideas that will help you grow.  

3. You are not making a competitive salary.

Staying in a dead-end job is not only bad for your career, but hurts your pockets too. Forbes contributor reporter Cameron Keng published an article regarding employees staying at the same company making 50% less than those who leave.

This means that you lose money over the course of your career the longer you stay at a job and receive the average 1.3% raise, if any. Sometimes the fear of being a “job hopper” makes the decision difficult.

But staying at the same job that doesn’t offer financial and professional growth puts you at a disadvantage and makes you less competitive in your industry.  

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4. You are doing the same thing that you’ve always done.

Your job should offer ongoing opportunities to be challenged. It’s hard to be considered a high-performer at work if you’re not challenged. Being comfortable will make you stagnant and not grow in your career.

Try to take on new tasks or see if there is a way to improve a current process. If you’re not learning new skills or taking on new roles, you risk being passed over for acknowledgement, raises, and promotions.  

5. You are always complaining.

Did you know that “grumpiness” is one of the side effects of being unhappy with your job? And that’s putting it in a nice way. You may not realize that you turned in to a different person, but your coworkers and friends do.

It’s normal to vent about work from time to time. But make sure your unhappiness with your job isn’t negatively affecting your business and personal relationships. Constantly complaining may deter others from wanting to work with you or refer you for a potential opportunity.

6. You are not on top of your industry.

When you have a flourishing career, it is more likely that you are current with new technology, standards, and principles because it’s an important part of doing your job effectively.

Look for opportunities to practice new things even if you have to do it outside of work. If your job doesn’t incorporate modern or new techniques in your field, you risk falling behind based on current industry standards.

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7. You are not using your best skills.

Your job should give you the opportunity to perform tasks that utilize and enhance your best skill set. For example, if you are a people person but work in front of a computer all day with minimal contact, it can be very unfulfilling.

There will always be some aspects of a job that you don’t like, but make sure they bring out the best of your skills, so that you can build an impressive list of career highlights in your role.

If not, you jeopardize your ability to build a strong portfolio of achievements based on showcasing your best qualities that make you unique.

8. You are making small mistakes with everyday tasks.

A tell-tale sign that you’re at your wits’ end with a job is making simple mistakes. Sure everybody makes mistakes, but if you’re frustrated you tend to make more. This could be because you hate tedious tasks and rather watch paint dry than to organize one more meeting or run one more report.

Although you may not put too much thought into it other than pure annoyance, these mistakes may negatively impact how your manager and colleagues view your ability to get the job done.  

9. You are fighting with your manager.

Your manager can make your job a breeze or a walk through hell. When your manager lacks good leadership skills, it can be a challenge to do your job right and be a great source of tension. Your manager is the one who gives directions and should guide you when help is needed.

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If you find that their lack of leadership leads to constant fighting, it could be a warning sign that your job performance will be questioned—whether rightfully so or not. Tension with your manager can impact your career when it comes to performance evaluations and recommendations.

10. You are doubting yourself.

The biggest impact of staying at the wrong job is that it eventually wears on your confidence. Over time you start questioning things about yourself that you would never question like saying the right thing or taking the right action.

It’s so easy to get caught up in a toxic situation whether it’s due to having a horrible manager, difficult coworkers, or just a dead-end job. This can affect your ability to effectively convey your personal brand in a way that will attract new opportunities.

When your job no longer lends to your growth and ability to feel good about yourself, it’s time to move on for the sake of your career.

Featured photo credit: confused man chooses road outdoor via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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