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Where Are You Heading? Define Your Path

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We can all picture that hapless boat, lurching without purpose, as each gust of wind whips its sails. Like a job hunter who lacks focus, it's pushed and pulled by external forces.

What harbor are you heading for? Once you decide, you'll be energized to reach it. And you'll gain a remarkable sense of control. Goal setting is a crucial element in your employment policy.

Setting a goal is one thing. Achieving it is another. Let us explain goal setting and outlines some techniques to help you reach your goals. The rest is about accomplishing what you set out to do.

How To Set Your Goal; Define it, So that it is Useful

The Goal Setting / Planning Guide outlined begin with the statement: The more specific you can be, the better. It's not enough to say you want a good job a position in a Fortune 500 company a lot of money or a marketing position. These objectives are too ambiguous. To be really useful, your goal should be:
  1. Achievable, but not too easy. Stretching helps you make the most of your mental, as well as physical, muscles.

  2. Measurable. If it's not measurable, how will you know when you have achieved it?
Financial security, for example, is a worthy objective, but it's not an appropriate goal because there's no way to know you have reached it.

Once you define financial security as $50,000, $500,000, or $5,000,000 in savings, you will know when you're there.

Specificity is powerful for another reason. It helps you to see yourself enjoying the fruits of your labor. The more distinct your goal, the easier it is for you to envision achieving it. And that vision helps to propel you forward. You may know exactly what you want to do and have what it takes to get there.

Developing Goals: Who Has Difficulty?

Everyone has the difficulty. In fact, it may be the hardest thing we have to do. Several of our survey respondents reported that the most troublesome aspect of being unemployed related to goals: "Finding a direction in which to go difficulty focusing on something specific feel a lack of direction do not know what I want to do hard to formulate goals with confidence."

What a contrast with the way we plan more trivial pursuits! Think how much time and attention we lavish on buying a car or choosing a vacation.

Even a party can consume many hours of planning and preparation. But then we'll choose a job-or even a career-on the basis of a tidbit of information or a casual remark!

Why Goal Setting Is So Hard

Setting our sights on a career goal is more difficult, of course, because so much is at stake. And there are so many unknowns. Even after a careful self-assessment, you've probably concluded that there are lots of things you can do and do well. And there may be many things you'd like to do.

Deciding on a career goal usually involves a bit of crystal ball gazing as well. That's always chancy. Now that our economy is shifting so rapidly, it's deicer than ever to predict what training and skills will be in demand in the future. A few years ago, for example, authoritative sources warned of a severe shortage of scientists. Simultaneously, Ph.D. physicists and chemists were coping with diminishing openings, a condition that has not improved.

Making a career decision, which usually requires investing significant amounts of time and money, is a formidable challenge for anyone. For those who lack confidence and fear failure, it can be overwhelming. They tend to procrastinate, have trouble getting organized, and taking risks. We can certainly empathize, but it's important to put risk-taking in perspective. Risk-taking is something we're aware of when we act. But NOT acting is also risk-taking! As, one extraordinarily successful businessman put it: "Doing something costs something. Doing nothing costs something. And quite often, doing nothing costs a lot more."? Why not ask yourself the questions high achievers ask themselves before making decisions:
  • If I fail, can I live with the consequences?

  • What is the worst thing that can happen?

  • Can I live with that?
If necessary, they start all over again, no worse off than if they had not acted in the first place. Often, they have learned something valuable from the experience, even if the outcome was not what they had hoped. So they're still better off.

How many times have you stretched way out for a fast ball in tennis or baseball? This is going to be tough, you thought. Not sure you could get it. But you went for it anyway. Isn't it amazing how many times you actually got that ball? And how great it felt when you did!
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