5 Steps To Achieving Your Career Objective
An essential part of success in any area of life is to know precisely what it is that you intend to achieve.
The same goes for your career: an essential part of successful career management is to have a well defined career objective. As for any journey you need to know the destination before you start. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people, who come to see us at Proteus Consultancy about their careers, have started to seek alternative employment but they do not have a specific career objective, even in mind – let alone written down.
It is certainly true that the majority of people will spend six months planning a two week holiday, but they don’t spend even two weeks planning what they are going to do with the rest of their lives!
One of the techniques we use to help our clients is an approach I learned about 20 years ago and have practised ever since in my own life. I call it the “top down” approach and it has five steps.
1. Focus on your dream.
Start by focusing on your dream (as the Americans would say – or as you are more likely to hear in the UK) Start by focusing on your objective. Personally I’d like to reintroduce the word “dream” into the language of achievement in the UK. For so many young people their dreams are stolen during their education by teachers with imperatives such as “Michael, stop day dreaming!”
2. Convert it into a goal.
Change it into a goal by defining it in detail in small steps with specific milestones to be achieved, including dates and timescales wherever possible. Most of us have heard about SMART goals – specific, measured, action based, realistic and timed. We are expected to do it at work – and most of us do so. Through annual appraisal systems our working lives are often guided by specific targets and accompanying tick-lists, but next to nobody ever does it in their personal lives.
3. Create an action plan.
Now study the goal and create the action plans that will be necessary for you to implement in order for each milestone to be reached. When President Kennedy converted man’s dream of going to the moon into a goal with his famous statement, “We will have a man on the moon by the end of the decade,” the Americans didn’t even have the technology – but once they had the goal they could start defining the action plans that would be necessary for its achievement.
4. Do the work.
The next stage of course is to put in the work with a persistant and pro-active attitude. The problem most people have is that they get to number 4 and they lose their focus on the objective, they decide the work is too difficult and they give up – just when it may have been within their grasp if they had only kept their focus on the destination. So this leads to the absolutely essential final step
5. Never stop focusing on the dream!
Most people never get as far as number 5, because they keep their focus on the work and lose sight of the destination. Towards the beginning of this post I called it the “top down” approach, but so many of us get to number 4 and focus “bottom up”, which of course starts with “the work” and if it is difficult we sometimes get halted in out tracks and we never get as far as number 5.
Remember, it’s called a “top down” approach for a reason. Keep the focus on the dream whatever stage you are at. If you find the word “dream” too fluffy, then use the word objective, but remember that nearly everything great the mankind has achieved started as a dream in someone’s head.
They didn’t start building the Eiffel Tower on 28th January 1887 because they found a load of steel girders lying about and wondered what to do with them! They started because an engineer called Gustave Eiffel had already built it in his mind’s eye.