Finding a job is relatively easy, but a career, not so much. You need to invest a lot of time and energy into it, and with a good plan, you can make it.
However, the best laid plans of mice and men don’t mean much when you sabotage it yourself. Often, your worst enemy is you. The pursuit of a career has many pitfalls, but if you know what career goal mistakes to avoid, and the things to do to get going, you can achieve your goals. Here are some mistakes that might be causing you to miss out on good career opportunities.
Career Goal Mistakes to Avoid and the Things to Do to Get You Going
Setting goals in the stratosphere
Ambition is good, and thinking big will certainly get you places. However, you need to base it on reality.
Setting unrealistic goals will not only make you frustrated, it can kill motivation. Your goals have to be not only attainable, but also relevant, specific, measurable, and time-bound (SMART). Set goals that are within reach of your current skill set, knowledge, and opportunity.
You can aspire for the top position in your company, but without experience, you will not get it. Aim for something a little more reachable, and take it from there. Do what it takes to get you within shooting distance of your ultimate goal.
When you set goals you can achieve, you are building your career brick by brick. It may not take off like a rocket ship, but neither will it burn out. What you will achieve is a solid foundation you can built as high as you want.
Poor time management
Some goals take longer to achieve than others. However, you need to set a time frame for each of these goals to keep you on track.
When you set no time duration for your goals, or set an unrealistic one, you are bound to fail. For one thing, you are not motivated to get moving because there is no “due date.” There is no sense of urgency, so you take your sweet time. You tell yourself there’s plenty of time, and in the end, you don’t do it at all.
On the other hand, you will feel discouraged if you set a date for goal completion, and you don’t make it because it wasn’t a reasonable period in the first place. What would make it worse is if people know about your goal (because you bragged about it on your social networks) and it doesn’t happen! It not only makes you look silly; it makes you look incompetent. Make sure you set a completion time for your goals, and keep them reasonable. Make allowances for delays and other things that may distract you from your work, like your personal life.
Lack of flexibility
Speaking of goals, you need to get your head out of the clouds and look at the reality of your life.
Your career goals give you direction, but the road ahead is far from smooth. You will encounter obstacles, and you just have to roll with it. If you stick to goals that are no longer tenable because of forces beyond your control, you are bound to fail. This can derail your career before you even get started!
You need to learn to roll with the punches, reassess your position, and attack from another angle. Head butting your way to your goals is just going to leave you with a headache. Be flexible, make adjustments, and celebrate your small victories even as you prepare for your next battle.
As part of being flexible, you should be on the lookout for opportunities for lateral moves. These may not be in your original plan, but times change, and your circumstances might be leading you in another direction entirely. Resumesplanet writer Tony Reilly says, “I was doing very well as a financial analyst, but I always had a talent for turning a phrase. I find more satisfaction helping hundreds of young people get a good job than churning out financial reports for some company.”
Think before you reject opportunities for career growth in another department, maybe even another industry. It could be your true calling.
Failing to value failure
Even when you set realistic goals within a reasonable period, you can still experience failure. This is no excuse to give up, however. Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure…unless you make it so.
Failure happens to everyone, especially “successful” people. Successful people probably fail more often because they are not afraid to take risks. However, this does not make them failures (obviously) and that is the key. Successful people don’t give up just because they fail. Instead, they try to figure out why they failed, and learn something about themselves or their profession. They use this new knowledge to do better in the next round. Bill Gates says, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Forgetting about the human connection
You do not exist in a vacuum.
Getting a reputation as a go-getter and hard-charging individual is going to go down well with the higher ups, but it may stop you from building good relationships with your colleagues and business associates. You don’t have to be friends with them (although that isn’t a bad idea), but at least cultivate a working relationship of mutual respect and courtesy.
You have to deal with people, no matter how far up the ladder you are, and people will follow your lead more readily if they like you. Playwright Wilson Mizner says, “Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you will meet them on the way down.” Cultivating relationships and networking can also open up possibilities that you may not have known existed.
Being too narrow-focused
Many people focus on their career goals and nothing else. This makes them highly motivated, but also one-dimensional. There is no depth to you, and no broad-mindedness, which can limit your potential quite badly.
You need to set goals for all aspects of your life, not only your career. Personal development goals may not impact directly on your current position, but it does provide you with the skills to deal with anything that comes your way. It develops you as a person, and as a professional.
It is also a mistake to forget about your personal life. Problems at home can affect your productivity, which is why many employers look into social networks and family background before they consider applicants for a position. A healthy work-life balance makes for a better individual in all aspects, including career.
Widen your horizons, and integrate it into your career goals. It will make your journey to the top more interesting, and definitely more satisfying.
Having too many goals
Goals can multiply like rabbits if you’re not careful. Having too many goals is as bad as having none at all, because you will spend all your time chasing them down.
Aside from taking on too much, it deprives you of the chance to relax and enjoy your life. Each new day becomes as stress-filled as the previous one. Allow yourself a break once a week when you don’t have to think about the things you have to do or goals you have to accomplish. Kick back, relax, and enjoy your life. It is what you have been working so hard for, isn’t it?
Career goals is the navigator for your journey to professional success. However, you are the driver, and you should maintain control of your life at all times. Avoid these mistakes to keep your career on track, but never forget your ultimate goal: to have a rich, fulfilling, and satisfying life. Your career should not stop you from having a life.