There is no doubt that to design your future career you must begin by creating goals and turning these goals into projects.
So why does this turn you off? Lets explore the art of goal setting to help you appreciate the value of this process and understand how creating goals will assist to turn your desires into reality.
To start, re-think the following:
1. Consider what you want, that is, your desires. What promises can you make to yourself about your future? What commitments are you wiling to declare to help you define what you want as part of your future? If you’re still having difficulty with this, go back to the activities and reflection sections and use these to define your ideal future.
2. Setting goals will help you figure out a way of reaching these commitments, as well as prioritising which ones are worth keeping.
3. Side projects, while they’re a way for you to explore possibilities, they can also help you create and make goals happen.
Considering asking yourself “What is possible?” so that you can open up a world that may have never existed for you, rather than thinking about “What are my options?” which could limit you into potential choices that are within the range of your vision now.
There is no limit to what you can accomplish when you are willing to step beyond the options before you now, when you get clear about what you want most and when you commit to making this happen. It doesn’t make you a better person to set goals. By being clear about your goals, it makes it much more likely that you will achieve the future you desire.
Thoughts from author Nicholas Lore, from Pathfinder
Principles of Goal Setting
Nicholas Lore, author of ‘Pathfinder - How to choose or change your career for a lifetime of satisfaction and success’, provides guiding principles to help us create lasting and meaningful career goals.
1. Understand that there are three levels of goals
At the highest level are the Meta Goals, these are comprehensive, big and are expressed as ideas like health, pleasure, security, self-expression.
From meta-level goals flow the Specific Goals. So with a goal of prosperity, you might set a specific goal concerning your income that could include goals about your saving, retirement, buying habits etc.
Then this leads to the next and lowest level that is the Action Steps. These are the steps you take to achieve the higher order goals and act as milestones to enable you to track how you’re progressing.
The Meta Goals will get us asking WHY? If you want a lifestyle that includes a career that allows you time to spend with your young children, the why behind this could be answered by your own upbringing, or that you feel these are the most formative years for children and you want to be able to have more control over this.
Similarly, our Meta Goals could be you want a lifestyle that includes time outdoors or access to a place on the beach. So in asking WHY? This could be that you love the feeling you get when you can recharge yourself, providing you more energy for the rest of your commitments.
So the first step in goal setting is to be clear about your Meta Goals. In turn you will become clearer on your motivations, get you in direct contact with what you really want and help you with choices that arise.
“If your goal setting is simply focused on your to-do list or on specific goals, you will have more difficulty sticking with the plan than if you understand all three levels of goals…. The most conscious, evolved people create their own Meta Goals rather than just run the software program built into them… Living from a purpose is essentially surrendering to a Meta Goal that you invented, which you elevate to a higher position than the ones already programmed in, and which serves some purpose larger than your self- fulfillment”.
2. Make your goals correspond with what you really want
Align your goals with your deepest principles and values rather than what you think your family, company or cultures goals are. Your passions and desires will drive this and in turn help you be authentic when you turn this into goals that are meaningful for you.
3. Create goals for every important area of your life
By now you’ve understood that this course is not just about your career, it’s about finding a place that matches all your life’s desires with an architecture to get there. Create goals that help you succeed in these areas and this will help you be clearer about achieving your career goals and, at some stage, they will become interwoven with your life goals.
4. Understand that well- founded goals contain some specific ingredients that boost their effectiveness
This is where the acronym SMART can be used effectively-make your goals SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.
With some thought you can turn vague ideas into SMART goals that give you something specific to aim for.
“Goals are an active intention, not a prediction. They focus your energy and direct your attention towards things you desire to accomplish”.
5. Frame your goals so they communicate what you really want
Firstly consider whether positive or negative messages work better for you as a motivator. For example you could frame your career goal as ‘My goal is to quit this unworkable job within a month’. Or if your mind moves towards more positive statements, you could frame this goal, as ‘My goal is to move from this job to one more aligned with my career strategy’.
The key is to frame your career goals to fit your personality so that they more accurately communicate your real intentions.
6. Write them down
Like anything important in life, we need to ensure we manage it, so by writing down your goals you will be able to see how you’re tracking against them. Consider drawing, sketching or mind mapping your goals – the key is to put them down on paper rather than just relying on keeping them in your head.
7. Create both short and long term goals
Effective goal setting will enable you to consider your longer-term life’s intentions as well as what you need to this month, this week and today.
8. Manage and revisit your goals
There is so many ways to manage this step, from reviewing your long-term goals on an annual basis, maybe as part of your new year’s renewal, to a monthly tracking of your short-term goals. The key is to revisit your list often and ensure that the short-term goals are progressing towards achieving the longer term ones.
Don’t be afraid to reword them, thrown out ones that are not SMART or tick off the ones that you have succeeded in achieving. It is said that the most effective people do this daily.
9. Meta Goals can’t always be reached by fulfilling the lower level goals
Nicholas Lore says that while this might sound contradictory, the point is that we need to take care not to be overwhelmed by the abstract nature of Meta Goals. Keep on eye on ensuring your actions are consistent with your Meta Goals and your specific goals are well founded, to help you achieve these.
10. Set goals that take you as far as you can stretch
If you want to achieve your SMART goals, then make them reasonable goals. Then think about what ‘reasonable’ is.
“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible”
Arthur C Clarke
Try This Activity
How far are you willing to stretch to have your dreams come true?
Start by finding paper and drawing a horizontal line across the centre of the paper. On the left hand side, write down your reasonable career goals. On the right hand side, write down what you really want, would go for if you didn’t need to be reasonable and if you weren’t constrained.
Then fill in the spaces in-between these two extremes with goals that represent a progression from your ‘reasonable goals’ to your ‘extreme goals’.
Think about how willing you are to stretch, what are you willing to do that could seem impossible to get to the right hand side goals? Then think about how you could make this happen.
In the end only you can decide how far you will go to make these goals come alive.