By CINDY YAP
It’s that time of the year again! Time to make New Year resolutions. Vicissitudes of life often get in the way between us and our goals, but we should not let that deter us from setting goals in the first place, especially career goals.
When we spend more than half of our waking hours at work, we eventually develop an attitude of “stagnation.” This sees us following the path of least resistance and choosing to stay in our comfort zone.
But setting resolutions or goals helps to counter the tendency to stagnate. Having obtainable objectives in our career can lead not only to increased job satisfaction in the long run, but increased self-esteem and improved overall well-being.
Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham, both pioneer researchers on goal setting in the late 1960s, emphasise on the inseparable link between setting specific, challenging goals and workplace performance.
Goals may be in a form of a change in career, an advance on the career ladder in a current occupation or an advance in the earning level.
As you formulate your resolutions for the year, here are some goal-setting tips to keep in mind:
1. Determine your Passion, Aspiration and Strengths
For a start, dig into your true desires and what you are good at. Find a way to channel the passion which motivates you to wake up in the morning, into something productive in the workplace.
2. Establish Goals and Work Towards them
Setting goals usually involves backward planning, i.e. determining where you want to be (i.e. your destination) and working backwards to where you are currently and ascertaining how you want to work towards the goal (i.e. the journey).
3. Be Realistic
In order to avoid feeling discouraged, make sure you have the time and energy to commit towards the journey.
Personally, consider your attributes, personality and interest and assess its compatibility with your long term career vision. Do also consider whether it fits into your current lifestyle or the lifestyle that you yearn for.
For instance, a working mother with young children may not find a high-flying, jet-setting career which requires extensive overseas assignments viable in her circumstances.
Nonetheless, allow some flexibility or a plan B which takes you to the same goal via different routes, where necessary, as circumstances may change along the journey.
4. Short and Long-Term Goals
With a clear long-term ambition, proceed to create short term and intermediate goals which are achievable in one to three years.
For instance, if you are already in a profession you love, consider a specific position you would like to attain in five years or beyond.
After doing so, you create little milestones to support that long term goal. It could be in the form of equipping yourself with new skills or acquiring new knowledge to better off your chances.
These small achievable tasks will provide baby steps to accomplish and provide motivation to move forward.
5. Brickbats and Bouquets
Work closely with your direct bosses to ensure both are on the same wavelength in ambitions and expectations. While the bouquets are a good measure of your progress, invite honest feedback on your performance and always be open towards any constructive criticism given.
6. Build Relationships
No man is an island. Building relationships within and across departments is one of the most important factors for resiliency and career success.
Feedback providers, coaches and mentors can help us connect, develop, gain support and attain our goals.
Observe and learn from others, share beneficial information and show initiative in projects which will enhance your overall portfolio.
7. What is Work-Life Balance to you?
Aside from your career, other segments important in your life include family, personal growth, spirituality, fitness/health and friendships.
Many believe that work-life balance is an unachievable myth which remains elusive. However, studies show that it is one of the most important workplace attributes, as well as one of the most important drivers of employee attraction and commitment. Employees work much harder for companies that offer better work-life balance.
So establish your own healthy equilibrium in order to feel more personal satisfaction, to be better-rounded and to be truly present in each realm of your life.
8. Believe and Never Quit
Focus on your destination and identify distractions along the way. Distractions could be in the form of negative thinking, the fear of failure or rejection, or even self-sabotaging.
If you continually think about and visualise what you want, and do it with passion, your enhanced desire will help eliminate any fear or apprehension that’s holding you back.
Every goal starts with a dream – harness these dreams and turn them into a workable plan. Setting goals, though not a guarantee to success, increases the odds greatly.
Remember, the future is not limited to what is happening today, so turn off the negativity, set your goals, go forth and never give up.
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