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Do You Have Clear Goals?

"Do You Have Clear Goals?"

From Career Tips, 2004 Volume 6, June 2004

Rain Fogged Window
Photo by C. G. on Unsplash

How many of us really have thought about what we want to achieve from our careers? Or, for that matter, from our lives? Have you thought about where you want to be in a year, 5 years, by the time you retire? Have you thought about what achieving those goals will do for you, both financially and emotionally? And what it will mean to your family?


One of the first few questions I generally ask a prospective client is "What do you want to achieve?" More often than not, the answer I get is "That's a good question!" We tend to focus very clearly on what we want to achieve today, this week, maybe even this month. After that, our vision tends to get progressively cloudier.


This is natural, but we shouldn't let it stay that way. After all, if you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? This doesn't mean that you need to have plotted out everything that's going to happen in your career or life, it just means having a good idea of what you really do want to achieve. If you haven't done so in awhile, I urge you to set a time in the next week when you will close your door (and your eyes), and just spend a half hour thinking about these questions:


  • It's now December 31.  Looking back, what have you accomplished this year?
  • It's 5 years later. What have you accomplished in the last 5 years?
  • What will accomplishing these goals mean to you? In your career? In your personal life? To your family?


Now that you are really in touch with what you want to have achieved and why, set a specific goal for the year. Then set a goal for the next 30 days that will help you get there. Just setting a goal will help you focus what you do, so that you will be much more likely to achieve it. It's especially helpful if you share the goal with someone important in your life - your spouse, a close friend, a mentor. As you achieve your goals, or understand what got in the way, you will gain more confidence in setting future and longer term goals. And when you achieve any of your short term goals, don't forget to reward yourself and celebrate what you've accomplished!


If you follow this simple prescription, you will find more satisfaction in your achievements, and won't as often be looking back thinking, "What would have happened if only..."


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