Posted: 4th January 2021

Do not set career goals this January. (And what to do instead).

Starting a new year is synonymous with setting goals: New year, new you. Dry January. Gym membership. New job. It’s a lot to think about.

Having conducted career planning with thousands of professionals, managers and leaders over the years, we can tell you exactly what the problem is: goals. Goals are the problem. So we recommend you don’t set yourself any. Not SMART* ones, not BHAG** ones. None. No goals.

Frankly, there are much better things to spend your time on that are way more likely to deliver the results you want. And it is these activities I want to share with you now.

  1. Focus on today, not the distant future. In our experience, ‘Destination goals’ are set too far in the future to motivate you to make the right choice on a cold dark Tuesday evening in January. So plan what you are going to do in that moment. Sure, have a rough idea of where you’re headed but be more ready to decide left or right at the next junction. Ready, Fire, Aim is your new mantra.
  2. Balance your priorities, don’t just add more stuff into your busy life. When career planning, decide how much life-effort you want to put into work and career based on how much time you have available this week. You need to find 15 hours a week for the next three years? What are you going to do less of? And what’s the likely impact of that choice? For example, if you want to re-train as a doctor you may need to reduce the ultra-marathon endurance training.
  3. Conduct an honest self-appraisal, don’t kid yourself. Appraise your current skillset in the marketplace. Life 3.0 and the advancement of technology means many jobs are not worth what they once were. And what about your behaviours? Of course, you think you’re awesome, but maybe you’re more annoying than you realise. Our advice is to get some honest feedback preferably delivered with care and respect.
  4. Get help to implement the plan, don’t just share the dream. Most of us can picture the future we want but few people have the commitment and grit to face the day-to-day reality of working towards it. Rather than publicising your dream, assemble your team of helpers. These are the people who will be there to pick you up off the floor, to inspire you, to reality-check with. Spend time getting these people in place preferably before you set off.

As usual, our advice is practical and based on listening to hard-working people aiming to reach their potential. It doesn’t have a sexy acronym and we’re glad about that.

These are just some of the tips available in our forthcoming Career Planning course which will be available soon. The course includes easy to follow lessons with practical tools and templates to help you plan, implement and enjoy moving on in your career.

Click here the view the Career Planning course details.

Call or email if you’d like discuss career planning coaching or courses for yourself or your people. We’re currently delivering a tailored version of this course across parts of London for NHS clinicians and medics. Get in touch for more information.

John Chisholm

Programme Director, Crescente.

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*SMART = who cares. **BHAG = catchy acronym to sell books (Good one Jim and Jerry!).