If you’ve been feeling dissatisfied in your professional life or feel like it’s time to make a change in a new direction, then there is no better time to give your career a fresh review. Giving your career a change in perspective can sometimes feel like a daunting thing to take on, as it can seem like it is fraught with risk.
However, if you really want to enjoy a fulfilling professional life that helps you reach your fullest potential, then it’s time to dig deep and start planning ahead. Here are some great ways that you can make your career dreams a reality.
Define Your Personal Goals Using SMART
Before you can start defining your new career pathway, the first step you will need to take is to define your personal goals. Every individual will have their own aspirations, and while your friends or family may have their own idea of what makes up success, this does not necessarily have to be the same for you.
In fact, trying to follow other people’s concept of what a successful career looks like can often leave many people feeling unhappy and stuck in a position they do not want to be in.
Instead, you can use a useful framework known as SMART to help you work out your own, unique career aspirations. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed, and these five points are great ways to judge whether or not a goal is worth pursuing or not.
Begin by being as specific as possible about what your ideal position in a career would look like. This may be a particular kind of role that you hope to work in, or perhaps a brand that you’d be excited to work for.
Next, define quantifiable, or measurable actions that you will need to take in order to make this happen. For instance, if your goal is to work in a high-flying business organization, then you may need to take on additional study such as this course in order to get into a suitable position.
Once you have a clearly defined goal in mind, that is both specific but also realistic and achievable, you can then work out a timeframe to get there. You may have a specific goal in mind, such as by a milestone age, or you may be willing to take it slowly and work through whatever is required in order to get to your ideal position.
However, you choose to approach it, having this framework in mind can be a very useful way to approach your personal career goals.
Talk to Others in Similar Roles
Networking is always one of the most useful skills in business, both as a way to find out more about what is happening in your industry, and as a way to discover potential opportunities waiting for you. It’s worth investing time and energy in talking to other people in similar positions or working in the kind of industry you’d like to be in.
These conversations and connections can have numerous benefits. It allows you to introduce yourself to people already in those industries, helping you make useful contacts that might be able to recommend you for potential roles if they come across them.
It also gives you a chance to ask questions about what it is like to work in those areas, directly from the people who are in them. This can be helpful to decide whether or not it is really the right step for you, in which case, you may need to take another look at your career goals.
Set Yourself Both Long and Short-term Goals
Achieving your dream career is not necessarily something that can happen overnight. In fact, for most major successes, their moment of glory only comes after many years of hard work and effort, with small, incremental steps along the way. It is essential to stay patient and dedicated, therefore, and not lose the determination to get there.
To help you stay on track, having a series of smaller goals that are more immediately achievable is a great approach. You may want to look at your long-term career goal and work out the different steps you need to take in order to get there, such as achieving specific qualifications, getting experience in specific areas, acquiring particular skills and progressing up the career ladder through different roles.
By recognizing these individual steps as a short-term goal that will ultimately help you get to where you want to be, you can stay focused and motivated, without losing the willpower needed to get through more challenging times.
It can be useful to create a practical reminder of your long-term objectives, and the short-term goals you need to complete in order to get there. A vision board or mood board can be a wonderful way of doing this, as you can create an attractive, visual reminder that will help you stay focused whenever your energy lags.
Alternatively, you may simply want to reward yourself after every milestone achievement, to celebrate the hard work that you have put in so far.
Be Realistic and Flexible
If there is one thing that 2020 should have taught you, it is to expect the unexpected, and be able to adapt to whatever changes come your way. While you may have clearly defined goals and aspirations, things beyond your control can change at any time, and this may even throw you off course for a while.
These disruptions can be enormously demotivating and demoralizing, as it can often feel like all the hard work that has been put in has gone to waste. However, maintaining a realistic and flexible mindset to whatever comes your way can help you maintain some resilience in the face of any unexpected shifts.
You can recognize the hard work that you have already put in so far, and see it as a sign that you are capable of doing complex and challenging things. You may also need to learn to let go of specific targets or goals that you had if it looks like you may not be able to get there.
Rather than allowing yourself to feel despondent over any potential setbacks or delays, taking a step back to re-evaluate what it is you want, and how you can adapt to make it come true, will allow you to stay on target of fulfilling your career ambitions, no matter what happens.
Many people go into business school or the business world with a great sense of urgency and expectation, hoping that within a short period of time, they will have a world of connections, and will be able to breeze through all of the required steps to get to where they want to be.
This is rarely the case for most people, however, as the path to success is often bumpy, with many setbacks, and usually it takes a lot longer than they might have counted on.
Patience, therefore, is one of the most essential virtues in the business world, as it allows you to take stock of things, without getting too swept away in unrealistic projections. You may need to spend a lot longer working lower-ranking roles to build up sufficient experience than you hoped, or it may take more time to grow a business in a sustainable manner.
While these can often be quite testing experiences, the reward for that patience is often a more mature success, as it is being built on much more solid and stable foundations.
Ask for Feedback
Lastly, asking others for feedback can be an enormously useful way of working towards your career goals, as others may be able to provide insight or spot something that you have overlooked. If you are trying to grow your own business, be open to receiving input and feedback from your customers, particularly as you first start.
These comments, though they may be critical at times, will be instrumental in helping you make your business as successful as possible, as you will have the chance to correct and amend anything that is not working well, as well as doing more of what does work.
You may also want to reach out to a mentor or career guide to help you get feedback on your business decisions. A mentor will often be someone in a similar area who has more experience, such as a former boss, and they can provide a useful sounding board as they are able to apply their own insights to your experiences, before suggesting useful ways of approaching issues or spotting, problems before they become serious.
By taking this feedback into account and using it as a guide to amend and guide your career decisions as you work, you can avoid getting into any unexpected pitfalls, and instead, aim towards an enjoyable and flourishing career that lives up to all you have hoped for.