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Where Is Your Career Going?

By Patra Frame

Many of our columns talk specifically about job search actions.

This one focuses on the larger issues of your career.

Where are you going?

Wherever you are currently: have you thought about your career goals in any detail recently? Most people change their career goals and interests regularly over time.

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Define Your Goals

Once you have really thought about what you want to do, it is time to develop specific goals.

A few is plenty - think a max of 4! Create short and medium term goals as specifically and realistically as you can. Write them down. Play with them a bit.

Think of your goals in these terms:

  • Understandable: clearly written, and simple to express to others;
  • Challenging: enough to stimulate interest and motivate you to do it;
  • Achievable: realistic enough so that it can be completed.

Example: GOAL: A career in forensics at a local or state forensics laboratory.

Step 1: Research the requirements for such jobs.

Step 2: Review my current training and education to find any gaps. Get my military training evaluated for college credits.

Step 3. Apply for forensics sciences programs at area colleges with good veteran programs by January 15th (or whatever date is reasonbly soon).

Remember that most goals will have a number of sub-actions. That is one reason that it is best to have only a few goals which you can actually concentrate on and achieve.

Once you have career goals you can commit to, you may want to write a contract with yourself or talk about your goals with a good friend. These steps help you actually commit to achieving your goals.

Achieving Your Goals

Step 1: Start taking action.

Besides specific goals, you need to take action. Start right away. Set up a system to help yourself to record your actions toward achieving your goals. It is easiest to achieve your goals if you can look at them easily and track your progress. Do this in whatever style works for you!

Step 2: Take action each week.

You cannot lose 40 lb. in a week for that big reunion. Neither can you expect to complete a real goal in one quick action. Take your goals and break them down into manageable steps, and start taking action. And, when life intervenes and you miss a week, just go back, check your record, and pick up the work again.

When you are planning your actions to meet your goals, remember their purpose is to help you. Don't let yourself get discouraged or make excuses.

I have seen people who blame their inability to achieve their goals on all sorts of external factors - the company wouldn't pay full tuition, their boss wasn't supportive, and so on. What they really meant was that they were not willing to do much for their own goals.

Sure, you will face obstacles. But you can get around them. You can find the help you need to grow, to develop, and to achieve your goals. Help is available at work, in professional groups, on the web, in the library, in volunteer work, or in any number of other ways.

Step 3: Celebrate when you achieve a goal!

Tell someone who cares about you. Tell your boss if it is work-related. Buy yourself a new book or bottle of wine or whatever works for you!

Start using the new skills at work or elsewhere. If you achieved a goal that will help you get a different job, get it into your resume. Act on it while you enjoy it.

And then move on to your next goal, and take action to achieve it!

Bottom Line

Moving forward without defined goals and action plans is like entering a battle to "beat the enemy" without knowing who or what the enemy is or how to beat that enemy. Taking the time to focus and plan will help you operate more effectively and succeed much more quickly.


About the author...

Patra Frame has extensive experience in human capital management and career issues in large and small corporations. She is an Air Force vet and charter member of The Women In Military Service for America Memorial.  Patra speaks and writes regularly on job search and career issues through her company Strategies for Human Resources (SHRInsight) and PatraFrame.com where she blogs advice for veterans and other job seekers. Watch Patra's ClearedJobs.net job search tips videos on YouTube, and follow her on Twitter @2Patra and on Google+.


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