Every time you hop in the car you have a destination in mind, right? While it’s pretty logical that you need to know where you’re going in order to get there, many of us overlook the same approach when it comes to reaching our professional goals.
Just like driving, knowing your destination guides pretty much all of your decisions – from planning the best route, knowing how much time you’ll need and even making sure you have enough petrol (and snacks) to last the journey. Without some kind of roadmap – be it formal or informal – you may end up ‘lost on the roadside’ wondering where on earth you are and how on earth you got there!
Here are some of the key things we suggest keeping in mind when formulating your own professional roadmap.
- Define your goals. Start by defining what that ‘success’ actually looks like for you. What are you trying to achieve and, perhaps more importantly, why? Business success? Career progression? More money? More time with your family and friends? Whatever it is and whatever your motivations, be as specific and measurable as possible. By all means have an end destination in mind, but also outline some of the key milestones along the way – say, every 12 months – and ideally include a time-frame as this will help to steer many of your future decisions.
- Make them attainable. It’s essential your goals are obtainable, both in terms of what you want to achieve and also how long you give yourself to do it. By all means you should try to stretch yourself. But if your objectives are simply too hard to achieve, your motivation levels can quickly wane. Experience shows us time and again that unrealistic goals are a recipe for disappointment.
- Make them visible. Goals can be hugely motivating, so don’t hide them away! Pin them to your desktop, your office wall, stick them on your fridge at home, set yourself weekly reminders on your smartphone. Keep them top of mind and you’ll stay a lot more focused.
- Identify obstacles. Removing potential barriers, or finding detours around them, is another key strategy on your success journey. What’s held you back in the past? External influences? Bad habits? Unhelpful attitudes? Skillset gaps? Don’t let history repeat itself. Put plans in place to prevent things that may have hindered your success in the past.
- Share the load. You might think the best way to achieve your goals in on your own. It makes sense in theory. But, in reality, many people find sharing their goals is hugely helpful. Do you have a mentor or respected colleague you can use as a sounding board from time to time? Even if there isn’t someone you can work directly with, at least tell a few close friends who can provide you with motivation and encouragement along the way. Making them aware of your goals will also help to keep you more accountable – a good thing!
- Be persistent. Regardless of how well you perform each of the above steps, there will inevitably still be setbacks and unexpected detours on your professional journey. The important thing is – don’t give up. Learn from your setbacks and mistakes, recalibrate and even change routes if you need to, but keep moving forward. Professional success is rarely easy or straight forward, but it’s certainly worth it.
Why we need a professional roadmap