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How You Can Be Successful With or Without a College Degree

How You Can Be Successful With or Without a College Degree

There are many stories of success that we have all heard time and time again of people who didn’t finish college or in some cases, even start college.  These people went on to have massive success.  Steve Jobs the late founder of Apple and Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft are two that come to mind.

I have been in the education sector for the last 10 years of my career and I hire lots of people that must have a college degree.  However, the ones that grow within the ranks of our company are the ones that continue to develop and make growth and development a top priority over everything else.

Since the context of this article is about how to be outstanding with or without a college degree, all 12 of these will work for you no matter what your educational background is.

1.  Start Early:

Find your passion and purpose in life and pursue that with vigor and dedication.  There are a lot of elite athletes such as golfers, tennis players, runners, soccer players, and many more other sports. In some cases they did go to college and in some cases they didn’t.  But most, if not all of them started early in their life and put in the work to be a success in their chosen field.  Steve Wozniak, who developed the first Apple computer, was playing around with electronics as a kid.

2.  Find a Mentor:  

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Yes.  Regardless if you have a college degree or not; find a mentor.  Maybe you are passionate about real estate.  You don’t need a college degree, but if you can find a mentor that can show you the ropes you can learn faster.  Even if you do have a college degree, find a mentor that can show you how to continue to grow and develop in a chosen field.

3.  Learn how to Sell:  

No matter what, if you start your own thing or you work for someone, learn how to sell!  If you can learn to sell or you already know how, you will always have a job.

4.  Expand Your Network:  

Job or no job, degree or no degree; if you can develop a strong network of people who know you, know what you are about, know your product, know your company that you work for, all of these things, then you can have massive success and be outstanding in whatever you decide to do.

5.  Read Lots of Books:

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How many?  As many as you can get your hands on!  Read anything and everything that is in your chosen career field/space. You can always learn more and broaden your knowledge. No amount of books is too many!

6.  Take Some Online Courses:

You can take an online course for just about anything these days.  You can get formal education online (a degree) or you can take specialized online courses that immerse you in a particular subject for a period of time.  Regardless of your educational background, by attending these kinds of programs you can take your career and success to the next level.

7.  Take a Short-term Specialty Program:

These are not degrees.  They are certifications and in some cases certificates in certain fields.  The medical field, the computer field, and other areas like skilled trades, such as welding and culinary have short quick programs that can teach you exactly what you need to know to get a job.

8.  Invent Something: 

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If you want to go from being just an employee with a company to a super star employee, create something that makes the company more money.  This will get you going on the fast track within your company.  If you’re just finding your way in life and you can invent something that the market needs, then you know what the results of that can be… Watch SharkTank or QVC.

9.  Be a Leader:

No matter what, every company needs leaders that are capable of leading others to get the desired results that the company needs.  It isn’t a popularity contest to be a leader though, its hard work, long hours, and hard decisions.  That is why good leadership is hard to find.  If you can lead others you will always have a place within a company, with or without a college degree.

10.   Put in the Work: 

Sorry, I had to put this one in here.  Some people think that they can get a college degree and then coast for their rest of their career.  Then you have other people who just don’t want to put in the time, but complain about their situation.  If you put in the work and extra hours, you can become outstanding in your job and career no matter what your educational background is. The 41st hour is where the herd separates.

11.  Learn how to Negotiate:

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This is a valuable skill for anyone, no matter what.  Sometimes you have to negotiate your salary with a potential employer, or negotiate a contract on a product you have developed. In everyday life, it seems as if everything we do really comes down to helping other people see that it’s a win-win situation.  Negotiators are able to show others a win-win situation.

12:  Be a Problem Solver: 

Most great inventions and start-up companies start from an idea for a problem they can solve. If you can solve problems for people, you can become an entrepreneur, which doesn’t require a college degree. If you are an employee for a company and can solve problems for your manager and your company, that skill will get you to the next level in your career at that company or somewhere else. Solving problems and saving the company money will get the attention of executives, and lead to positive outcomes for you.

Try doing some of the things above and I will guarantee you will have massive success, and be outstanding no matter what your educational background is!

Featured photo credit: Dinn Bros. Trophy Company via dinntrophy.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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