According to research published by the University of Scranton, 92% of people set goals for the New Year but never actually achieve them.
The first study of goal setting was carried out by British philosopher and industrial psychologist, Alec Mace, in 1935 and his work has informed many of the basic principles that we use today. Later on, researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham developed a theory of goal setting after finding that when people set specific and challenging goals, they achieved higher performance 90% of the time.
It seems clear that if you want success in your career, then goal setting is of critical importance. However, difference between the 92% of people that fail to achieve their goals and the 8% that do is a commitment to achieving them and doing everything possible until they get there. So, not only is it important to define your goals but also to take the action required to ensure you make progress towards them and continue doing so until the target has been reached.
Here are seven actions you can take to help you reach the next level in your career:
1. Be clear about where you are going – if you have a career goal, then you probably have thought through your aspirations and ambitions. However, I have come across a number of people in my work who know they want something but not sure exactly what. They might be frustrated about their situation and feel they have yet to reach their potential but have no idea what would make them feel more fulfilled. My point here is that if you do not know where you are going then how can you possibly get there? For help setting objectives which are specific and achievable, try mindtools.com – Personal Goal Setting.
2. Look at job descriptions and identify any gaps – once you are clear about where you want to go, you need to make a plan to get there. The best first step is to look at some job descriptions for the kind of roles you are interested in and identify any gaps in your knowledge, skills and experience.
3. Make a development plan – after you have identified the areas you need to work on to secure the kind of role you are interested in, then you can make a plan to gain more experience or develop skills in these areas. Practical ways to fill the gaps include courses or qualifications, voluntary work or job shadowing.
4. Become a charity Trustee – a great way to gain experience at a strategic level is taking on a Trustee role with a charitable organisation. Many charities require volunteers at this level who can contribute views on the direction of the organisation and make decisions about strategic direction. Trustee roles require knowledge across a range of areas such as finance, risk and governance so a great way to demonstrate the ability to think strategically. Recruit 3 is a good place to look for Trustee vacancies in Wales or Third Sector Jobs for UK-wide opportunities.
5. Get some coaching or mentoring – all the best leaders have had a coach or mentor at some point during their career journey. Both are processes that can help you think about your skills, find a way to develop further and ultimately, help you to reach your potential. My recommendations include Empower’s Step Up programme which offers support for third sector professionals looking to secure a leadership role or Compass for professional coaching.
6. Ask for feedback – this is absolutely key for me in making sure you are developing in the right way to achieve your career goals. Whether you have submitted and application and not been shortlisted, had a job interview and not been successful or looking to progress internally and facing barriers. Ask for feedback and act on what you find out.
7. Don’t give up – most of all, if you really want to take the next step, then whatever barriers or knock backs you face, do not give up because if you remain committed to following the previous steps, you will succeed in the end.