I can’t begin to count how many times I hear phrases like “I’m planning to…” “I’m trying to…” or “I am going to…” That kind of thinking is a cop-out that gives you permission to procrastinate or ignore your goals. A few months ago, a guest on a local news show put it this way: imagine saying you are trying to feed the dog. Face it, the dog’s going to die if you only try to feed it. Do it or don’t, but be honest & definite with your intentions. Taking a defined approach with your job search or career management goals will help you to actually move toward your objective. Here are 5 quick tips to take control of your career planning:
• Write Out Your Goals – the simple act of writing your goals will increase your success. It also helps you to clarify what it is that you want to achieve, and start thinking about what resources and actions you might need to take along the way.
• Be Accountable – this is the point where most of us fall off the wagon. We can write out what we want or are planning, but since we are only accountable to ourselves it’s easy to procrastinate or set your expectations too high and become frustrated with the process. A better way? Set smaller tasks for yourself and book them into your calendar. Whether you use Google, Outlook, or the classic pen & day planner, pencil in some deadlines for your goals.
• Book an Appointment with Yourself – we schedule appointments with everyone else, but when was the last time you blocked an hour in your calendar to focus on yourself? When you write your goals, estimate how much time you think it will take to achieve that goal and start putting blocks of time in your calendar to work toward it. Don’t have an hour? Start with 15 minutes, and break your tasks into smaller chunks. As you start to make progress you’ll be more likely to find time to devote to your goals.
• Celebrate the Small Stuff – We always think we can accomplish more than we actually do, so rather than feeling frustrated celebrate the progress you have made. Treat yourself and consider building in a rewards system to stay motivated. Keep a journal of the actions you have taken and review it from time to time when you feel like you’re not making any headway – also a great strategy for preparing for performance reviews at work, since you’ll have a record of your activities always at the ready.
• Surround Yourself with Supporters – Research suggests that sharing your goals and regular progress updates with others increases the odds of success, especially if they are positive and supportive of your efforts. Whether you surround yourself with cheerleading family, friends and co-workers or find solace through online communities like Versatile PhD or LinkedIn groups, the trick is to avoid isolation and to join or create a group of people who expect updates and offer feedback and encouragement.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with the entire process, you might consider a coaching session to help you organize and evaluate your goal plan.
Questions and comments (or goals you want to share) are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.