Ten “top tips” when formulating or revising career goals
Based on rigorous and extensive research on happiness in the workplace, Jessica Pryce-Jones and her associates at iOpener (an Oxford-based consultancy) identified what she characterizes as “Ten Top tips for work goals.” She discusses each of them in her book Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, recently published by Wiley-Blackwell.
Here they are, supplemented by a few brief comments by me.
1. Make sure your goals are realistic and appropriate for you.
Comment: This presupposes you know who you are what you really want.
2. Ensure you have the right personal resources.
Comment: Fitness should be high on the list but seldom is.
3. Develop appropriate strategies for accessing other resources you also need.
Comment: For example, identify those who can provide the best (i.e. both knowledgeable and candid) advice, who have the best network of contacts, and who are both willing and able to be your “evangelists.”
4. Make your goals concrete rather than abstract.
Comment: Focus on specifically what you will do and set deadlines, rather on what you will think about, discuss with others, etc.
5. Eliminate distractions.
Comment: Distractions are most attractive when we must complete a difficult and/or unpleasant task. Much of what peak performers do involves what others would rather not do.
6. Make a consistent effort.
Comment: Be a Bunsen burner, not a sparkler.
7. Find the right environment in which to achieve your goals.
Comment: To paraphrase Teresa Amabile, know what you really enjoy doing and then locate where, with whom, and under what conditions you can do it.
8. Make certain that you do not have conflicting goals.
Comment: I highly recommend that career goals be thoroughly discussed with members of the immediate family so that (a) they understand what the goals are and (b) they are thus better prepared to support efforts to achieve them.
9. Keep in mind that time, energy, and effort must be invested to achieve the meaningful happiness you seek.
Comment: Also keep in mind advice from Tony Schwartz that effective management of energy is most important. Sufficient sleep, relaxation, and exercise are needed to renew it.
10. The journey toward each goal is often more important than achieving it.
Comment: I agree that the process is best viewed as a “journey” and for many “pilgrims,” its greatest value is derived from what they learn about themselves en route.
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I highly recommend Pryce-Jones’s book as well as Arlene Johnson’s Success Mapping: Achieve What You Want…Right Now!, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, and The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win, co-authored by Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich.
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