Are you struggling to get started with goal setting? Do you know you want to improve on an area of your life by setting some goals, but you’re just not sure where to start? This week we look at career.

This blog addresses career questions quite often. But for this article let’s stick to the high-level themes and questions people ask themselves in relation to career and goal-setting.

1. Am I in the right career?
2. Where do I want to be, and how do I progress there? How do I see my career path developing?
3. Do I have the skills and tools to be highly effective at work?
4. How can I get the recognition and reward I deserve?
5. Is it time for a complete career change? What does that look like?

1. Am I in the right career? The most effective way to answer the question of whether you are in the right career or not is to go through a series of self-discovery exercises where you assess your skills and interests and see if your current career is a good match for that, or demands skills and interests you neither have, nor are keen to develop. This takes thought, time and research.

2. Where do I want to be, and how do I progress there? Most people are surprisingly ignorant of the prospects their current career offers them. They are limited to a view within their own company or a limited range of other companies they have sight of. The key thing to remember these days is that with incredibly rare and limited exceptions these days your CAREER is far bigger than any one JOB. (Maybe if your job is “future King of the United Kingdom” that is less true). Otherwise you need to be aware of what the world environment looks in terms of your skills-set, profession, other companies, other countries, other sectors that use the same skills, e.g. public, private and not-for-profit. Most people have more choice and options than they think they do. Open your eyes, ask questions, read, research. Find out about people doing interesting things and ask them how they got there. Model yourself on others.

3. Do I have the skills and tools to be highly effective at work? No matter what level you are at, you can always improve your skills. You can master a field faster than you may think with dedication and application, but maintaining mastery involves constantly learning. The unfortunate truth is that your brain needs to hear messages reinforced over and over to retain them, so for something to really click you need to encounter it over and over in different formats and in different ways. To go through that process you have to expose yourself to those concepts on a repeat basis. Success stories of famous people are often littered with examples of this “Leaders are Readers” is a favourite saying of Richard Branson. Tony Robbins frequently boasts about how he read over 700 books on personal development. Many internet gurus say similar things – their whole sales copy is based on reading X marketing books to get started. But what they don’t tell you is they keep this up. There was even a book about it – The Zulu Principle” by Jim Later. The gist of this book is you only need to go a little deeper into any subject than average to become a world expert on it. One hour reading a day, a couple of seminars, suddenly you are giving the seminars. Over enough time it is surprisingly easy to become an expert on any subject you choose. You need to make that choice though.

4. How can I get the recognition and reward I deserve? Navigating and negotiating job positions, pay rates, contracts, work opportunities. This is a skill, it can be learned. Do your homework and understand as much about the situation you are going into as you can in advance. Consider the other sides perspective; what do they want? How can you help them achieve it? Then create a win-win proposal and put it well. How to move through these stages is well documented in many books, courses, videos etc. If this is what you want, set your goal, and get help to achieve it.

5. Is it time for a complete career change? What does that look like? Many people fancy a career change. Sometimes this is just to avoid problems in other areas, e.g. a bad working situation that could be fixed by changing jobs. However, sometimes people are in the wrong career, or have achieved everything they really wanted to in one field, and it’s genuinely time for a change. Cool. This is a deeply exciting area to set goals in. Research, research, research. OK, do not get bogged down by paralysis by analysis – try to get to the answers you need quickly. But you do need to go through a process to answer those questions, and – crucially – identify the questions in the first place. Again, many, many people have over the years changed careers successfully, and many of them have either been studied, or told their own stories on it. Find out how they did it. And if you can get any mentoring or help, do.

What’s you top career goal? What would you most like to change in this area? What would you like to achieve? Let me know and leave a comment below.