5 Questions to Pinpoint Your 2017 Career Goals

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successIt’s January. Naturally, our human cycle likes beginnings and endings. So go with the flow: Make time this long holiday weekend to define your 2017 career goals! When we set life goals, we tend to be both excited and anxious: “I really hope that I will…” as well as “but what if it doesn’t pan out? I’ll be so disappointed”. This tension stops us from setting goals.  Don’t let this stop you. Keep going!  Remember, our goals are “living” things, so expect that your goals will shift and contour with you as your year evolves. It shouldn’t shackle you.  Goals should inspire and liberate you! So don’t wait for another “right” moment that will blow by you. Do it this weekend.
Below, is my Career Goal Setting RECIPE for you!
Time: Minimum 3 hours (spread out according to your availability)

  1. Find a quiet space, free of distractions and interruption for a minimum of 1-2 hours
  2. Have a journal / computer to document your notes and goals
  3. Mindset: be in a mindset that is excited, hopeful, relaxed. This is about living your dream, so lighten up a bit! No white knuckles ok? Take 3 deep breaths.  Trust your inner voice and knowing as you do this.

Combine Key Ingredients:

  1. Get yourself into a “focused zone” — alert but relaxed. You can do a breathing exercise / body scan to help you be “here”. If you meditate, do a short 10-15 meditation before you begin.
  2. In your mind, run through your work highlights in 2016. Jan/Feb/March…Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter. Jot down in your journal your recollections to help you anchor your thoughts. What were the highs? What were the lows?
  3. In your journal or computer, type in one of the questions below. One Question for each page and answer.
  4. Take your time to contemplate and ruminate on your answers. Review your reflections. Trust the gut, put the first thing(s) that comes to mind on the sheet of paper.
    1. List the most meaningful or rewarding work-related events / actions / outcomes you took part in?
      • Why did you choose those particular ones?
    2. List your most visible accomplishments at work that showcased your talent & unique contributions.
      • What do your choices tell you about what you care about?
      • Check the ones that were also recognized by your employer.
    3. What obstacles did you experience?
      • Take responsibility (this can feel really challenging): What obstacles did you create for yourself, that lessened your potential / impact? This one may take longer as you’ll need to dig deep to identify potentially self-sabotaging behaviors.
    4. What felt missing or lacking in your work?
      • What left you feeling empty?
      • What do your choices tell you about what you need to feel more fulfilled at work?
    5. Looking back at 2016, what were your 5 Top “Best Self Moments”?
      • You know you’re your “Best Self” when you exhibited the most joyful, engaged, fulfilled version of you.

Let Your Answers Bake:
Most of us just want to get to the list of goals. However, a vital step of this process, that is a must, is to allow common themes to emerge. Themes tell us recurring aspects of our work/life that we yearn, that are important to our satisfaction.

  1.  Look for repeating themes.
    • For each question, dig deeper to understand the why’s.
      • Why was an accomplishment important to you?
      • Why did you miss X in your work? Why would you be more fulfilled if that were present?
    • Write down repeating words / phrases that reflect your sense of meaning / accomplishment / lack
    • What common themes emerge?
  2. Translate themes into goals.
    • Let’s say “creative projects with a team” emerges as a theme.  You would translate that theme into a career goal for 2017: “Acquire 2 new products projects with the Digital Business Unit”.

Finish Your Creation: Shape Your 2017 Career Goals

  1. Effective career goals require reflection and at least a few iterations before they will be robust and implementable.  Remember: Career goals also evolve because life can change, not according to our plans.
  2. Based on your themes from 2016, what are practical career goals? What are stretch goals? What goals scare you (which means you are stretching yourself!).
  3. Gut check– do these goals inspire you? Do you feel excited, hopeful, with a tinge of positive anticipation?
  4. Write these goals in a place that you can easily see. Laminate it.  Put it in a sheet cover. Make it official.
    1. If you feel awkward having others see it, put it in a secure place, but make sure to review once/month
    2. View, review and edit as the year continues.

Enjoy! Your Fresh-Out-of-the-Oven Career Goals are done. 
Best enjoyed with joy, laughter, hope and high-fives.
You’re on your way to making your Dream, a Reality!