How Can You Follow Your Career Goals in 2018?

How Can You Follow Your Career Goals in 2018?

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It’s easy to become comfortable in a job and forget about your career goals. Comfort can soon turn into a career-rut and, if this is the case, how can you get your career goals back on track without risking financial and job-security?

It was your dream job, a stepping stone to bigger things but somehow, over time you have become ‘settled’. The problem with being settled is that we stop feeling challenged in what it is we do. And when this happens, we find ourselves in a rut.

2018 is the year you will break free from this career-rut and start back on your path to the career goals that you set yourself in the first place. But how can you break free, leave ‘settled’ and ‘comfortable’ behind to challenge yourself?

#1 Re-visit your original career goals

We stop following the path we have set for ourselves when we lose sight of the destination. And this means we need to go back to our original plan and look at what heady dreams we had in store.

However, our aspirations and ambitions can change, and this is something that you need to take stock of as part of reviewing your original career goals.

What were your original plans for 2018? Was it a master plan to completely change from one career to another or were you seeking a promotion?

#2 Allow yourself to adjust these goals

Cast your mind back to when you had a careers interview as you left school – what did you say you wanted to do as a career? How you felt about your future then, could be very different to how you see your future now.

And yet, we can stick doggedly to our original plan. But here’s the thing – you can change it if you give yourself permission to do so!

Career goals change as your aspirations change but they may also need modification as life and other circumstances change. It is OK to change career goals!

#3 Consider the benefits of your career goals

Again, for many people, memories and the opinions of other constrain our career goals. It is OK to daydream and to wonder ‘what if…?’ when it comes to your own career aspirations.

For example, you may have always wanted to be a beauty therapist and run your own clinic or spa, providing fantastic services and treatments for bridal parties and for other celebrations in life. But someone somewhere may have said ‘there is no money in it’ or ‘it is hard running your own business’ or ‘to be a beauty therapist, you must be really creative’, a suggestion, of course, that you are not creative enough.

So, you got a ‘proper job’ and joined the 9 to 5 brigade. You are happy enough, it pays the bills and yet…

Is the 9 to 5, the security, the salary enough to keep you in that job? A career, after all, is not just about money but about emotional well-being, meeting our own aspirations, however, lofty others may see them.

There are many people who have taken a calculated risk and left behind ‘proper jobs’ and career to become something completely opposite. If you made a career change, what are the true benefits to you?

#4 Get into the detail

An overarching career goal would be ‘to become a beauty therapist’ but now you need to break this goal down and start to plan your journey to reach this destination.

Consider factors such as;

  • Time – when will you reach this goal? At what point do you want to be able to call yourself a beauty therapist? Is it by the end of the year or in a few months?
  • Qualifications – what skills do you need to break into this new career? Can you study them online with distance learning courses or do you need to attend a specialist college or course?
  • Finances – how will you fund your studies and, more importantly, how will you continue to pay the bills, the rent or the mortgage?

Breaking down the journey into smaller, bite-size pieces is also a way of ensuring you stay on track with your career goals for 2018.

#5 Create space

Making a life-changing decision is not easy. It involves many different aspects of life and other people too. This doesn’t mean it cannot or shouldn’t be done but when it comes to making a big decision such as a career change, you need to give yourself time to think.

There are some who say that making a big decision in dark times is not the right time to do so. In other words, don’t resign after one bad day and enrol on a course that sees you doing the complete opposite!

However, that approach can work, and it is because of this shifting-sands feature of decision-making that psychologists suggest taking time out emotionally and mentally when it comes to making a life-changing decision.

Do you have the time to commit to a new career goal this coming year? Can you afford it? What is driving this decision?

Taking space emotionally and mentally to consider your career goals could bring to light other aspects of life of which you are unhappy about. What needs to change first, if anything?

#6 Is it a trend?

Who would have thought when you left school or college all those years ago that there would be such as a career as ‘social media executive’? Or people creating booming businesses out of walking dogs or doggy creches?

These people have taken a chance on a career, building a business out of something that many people consider to be a trend or a fad. And we are back full circle to the debate about a ‘proper job’.

Career goals are intrinsically personal, but you also need to be confident that you are not risking everything on a trend. And that means having the ability to look forward and understanding how an industry could change in the coming years?

Ask yourself why you are considering changing careers and what is fuelling it? Is it a short-term demand with the promise of a quick payday or is it an investment in your long-term future?

#7 Learn, learn, learn

Whilst we accept that all-singing, all-dancing qualifications are not the be all and end all, they are an important consideration when it comes to carving out a new career or seeking that promotion you have coveted for some time now.

But learning is not just about formal learning, such as that you acquire from distance learning courses, although these are a great investment of time and money. Learning is also about;

  • Knowing your industry – understanding what makes the industry tick, how it has changed and where it is going is vital in gaining the right qualifications, skills and training.
  • Understanding the risks – it is a common interview question that stumps many candidates but understanding what the risks to an industry are means you can be better prepared with how you meet them (and this is the same for your career goals too).
  • Movers and shakers – learning who are the key influencers in an industry is also part of learning about it and how this affects you.

Learning is about skills and qualifications, as well as the wider picture.

#8 Look inwards

Career goals may look neat and tidy on a piece of paper, and you may have planned the smaller steps you need to take on your journey… now is the difficult part: looking inward and making the changes needed to reach those goals and aspirations.

Online distance learning courses sound great – complete in your own time, no tutors chasing you to meet deadlines, manage your own learning and workload– but completing a course takes commitment, diligence and stamina, more so when things get tough.

In other words, are you really willing to make the changes to you and your habits to reach your goal? Are you prepared, for example, to study rather than do something else like socialise, watch TV or go to the gym?

#9 Making time for what matters

There are three big things that thwart our career goals;

  1. Lack of self-belief
  2. Allowing others to thwart our ambitions and dreams
  3. Shortage of time

Lack of time is a nuisance, but we need to get over this hurdle. And that means finding more time to complete the online course you have just signed up for, volunteering to get more experience at doing something or taking time to practice new skills.

Where is this extra time coming from?

#10 Don’t forget the pleasure and joy!

A complete career change is tough as is studying late at night or early in the morning to gain the extra qualification or additional skills needed to win a promotion. But don’t forget, this journey should be a joyous one too.

Make time to do things that you enjoy whether that is a run in the woods, yoga on a hillside or binge-watching box sets on Netflix every now and then. Life is about balance, after all…

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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