As we wrap up the year and roll into the new one, many of us start to reflect. A big topic that comes to mind is our careers.
- Am I happy doing what I am doing?
- Is it enabling me to utilize my talents?
- Am I successful at it?
- Am I getting the fulfillment I yearn for doing this work?
- Am I able to strike a healthy balance between work and my personal life?
These are just a few questions we can ponder when thinking about our careers and how it impacts our lives.
But what if you are NOT doing what you’ve dreamed of doing? What if you have been fantasizing about another career, but are not any closer to achieving that than you were last year?
Today’s post will focus on four steps you can take to move forward with accomplishing your career dreams.
1. Define it in detail.
Spend some time meditating on what it is you want to do. Get really clear about it.
- Does it map well to your talents and abilities?
- What sort of tasks will you be doing?
- What relationships will you be forming?
- Is there a formal education required to achieve your goals?
- Why is it important to you?
- What happiness, success or fulfillment would achieving this career goal bring to your life?
And perhaps the best question is to ask yourself: What kind of regrets will you have by not actively pursuing your dream job, TODAY?
The key is to get as detailed as you can about what your dream entails and what you know will need to happen to achieve it. Paint a picture in your mind that is crystal clear; put it in writing or create a dream board you can refer to later. This will be important later as you start to take action toward achieving your goal. Your willpower or motivation may wane, and you may need to remind yourself why you are pursuing the dream in the first place.
2. Find a mentor or group.
Find someone who is doing what you want to do and see if you can forge a connection with them. For example, if you want to own a bed and breakfast, see if you can have coffee with a local bed and breakfast owner and ask them if they would be open to sharing about the path they took to get there. There are also clubs, associations, meet-ups, and gatherings of like-minded people in almost every single career field you can imagine. Do a quick search online, and you should be able to find them in your area.
If you are somewhere really remote, there are usually online forums or informational sources you can take advantage of from your locale. The point is that people who have achieved the goal you’re striving toward are sources of great information. What not to do, lessons they have learned, and things that helped to catapult them forward are all valuable insights you can gain from forging these relationships.
3. Educate yourself.
You can’t just rely on your new-found mentors and friends for information about your career dreams. It is important to do some research on your own, too. Go online, and you are likely to find more information than you know what to do with. Visit your local library and see if you can find any books on your career aspiration, or, on achieving goals in general. But be careful not to use this step as an excuse to procrastinate. For example, my nature is to do massive research on a topic until I feel as if I am nearly an expert. And in reality, I go way overboard in attaining information and do almost nothing to apply what I’ve learned.
4. Take action.
This is the most important step. It is very, very unlikely that you will achieve your career dreams by luck alone. And while visualization, forging relationships, and doing research to educate yourself are important, they are meaningless if you do nothing to move forward.
Most anyone who has achieved things we admire has had to hustle to get there. It may have meant getting up early before work, dedicating a weekend day, or spending a few hours each evening toward your goal. It may have also included reading books about success in that field, and quite a few cups of coffee learning from mentors and peers. It could mean taking a formal class once a week, polishing up your skills with a friend, or practicing until you start to build some proficiency.
Bottom line is persistence and work, actual tangible ACTION, toward your dream job is required to get there. The best way to achieve this is to set some time on your schedule regularly (e.g. daily, every other day, every weekend) to take at least one step toward achieving your goal. And then make a commitment to yourself that you will do it. If you find yourself starting to run out of steam, go back to step one and remind yourself of why this goal is so important to you.
Make this year the year you changed your career “dream” to reality. If you have already made the transition, what important step(s) would you add to this list? Are there tactics you used—to visualize, forge relationships, gain information, or take action—that would be helpful to someone starting off on their own journey?
If you are interested in some books that may help you achieve your career dreams, I’d recommend “Quitter” and “Finish” by Jon Acuff; “Find Your Strongest Life” and “StandOut 2.0” by Marcus Buckingham; and “Unstuck” by Dan Webster and Randy Gravitt.
What books changed your life and career? What resources and tools have helped you find your dream career?