Regardless of the industry that you work in, you should be taking a goal-oriented approach to your job.
Ideally, we would all be passionate about our jobs. It’s where we’re going to spending most of our time for most of our lives and so it should be something that we enjoy.
But unfortunately that’s not always the case. We have to make a living and for some people, the aspirations they have don’t work out in a way that allows for that.
If you set career goals for yourself however, you can inject passion into any kind of job, no matter how little motivation you feel like you have to pursue it.
If you are not passionate about your job, become passionate about achieving. Give yourself milestones to each and the process of building towards them will become enjoyable.
So whether you’re passionate about your job or not, setting career goals is the way forward. It will get your through the rough days and remind you why you do what you do.
While a lot of people do this and end up flourishing, there’s also a lot of people who make career goals and never achieve them because they let their commitment waiver.
This is the last thing you want. It will just lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. So how do you stay committed? Well here’s five things that should help in that regard.
1. Set Realistic Goals
This is one of the main reasons why so many people end up setting these career goals that they eventually give up on.
We see people in the field we work in who are making a ton of money and are at the top of the industry with the world at their feet.
It takes a lot of time and hard work to get there, but let’s be honest, it also take a little bit of luck. Perhaps a lot of luck in some lines of work.
I wouldn’t suggest that you should doubt that you can reach that stage yourself, but realistically you probably won’t.
And that’s why you shouldn’t set goals that are too outlandish. Because more than likely you’re just going to realize that they’re unattainable and then give up.
You’re goals should be realistic. Examine your industry and find out about what people who have been doing it a long time have achieved.
Get a reference point for success that is proven to be achievable. Also keep an eye on future opportunities.
Part of being realistic is also accepting that you may have to adapt with a changing industry and alter your goals slightly if necessary.
If you’re in the engineering industry for example, you could check out articles like this one from Vista Projects.
Understand that it’s up to you whether or not you progress in an industry and you have to be realistic about what you hope to get out of it.
2. Get Into a Routine
Unless you are working from home, you’re probably going to be in some sort of a routine at work by design.
You go in there in the morning and spend eight hours working. That’s life for most of us, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in a productive routine.
There’s nothing to really stop you from procrastinating except yourself. You could sit there for eight hours and not actually get anything significant done.
So in addition to you working hours, get yourself into a routine of mental focus. There’s a book by Cal Newport called Deep Work about how to gain focused success.
The ideas in this book centre around ensuring that you are entirely focused on you work to ensure that you get things done efficiently and to the best of your ability.
It’s impossible to stay focused for eight hours straight, however if you have yourself settled into a routine at work that involves periods of deep focus, you can progress more fluidly.
So don’t think of this from the perspective of setting physical routines. Your goals are set in your mind, so it’s a mental routine that you need.
3. Don’t Overwork Yourself
Like I just mentioned in the previous point, it’s essentially impossible to maintain focus for a very extended period of time.
Your productivity will probably start to slip after about 45-50 minutes and it quickly becomes pointless to try and push forward.
You need to take regular breaks and let your brain recharge for a little while. If you just work and work non-stop for hours on end, you won’t actually get anywhere.
An hour of solid productivity followed by seven hours of tired, unfocused work is actually counter-productive to your goals.
You’ll feel like you should be progressing because you are doing so much but in fact you’ll be moving slower than those with a more structured, careful approach to work.
This is just overwork and it’s damaging to your mental and physical health as well as to your motivation.
If you overwork yourself, you will become miserable in your job and become less and less interested in reaching any kind of goals.
I would suggest that every hour you work for 45 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. Get up and walk around, make a cup of coffee, do something that doesn’t take much brain power.
You do this for the entire working day and you will get places without feeling like you’re under too much strain or pressure.
4. Take Time for Leisure
You absolutely have to have free time. If work is constantly on your mind it will drive you insane really quickly.
No matter how much you want to achieve your goals, work is work and it takes its toll on you. Even if you love your job.
I’ll remind you of an old cliche that says that you can have too much of a good thing. Your leisure time should be when you don’t think about work much, if at all.
You’ll appreciate your time spent working and your time spent doing your own thing more, if neither one of them are dominating your life.
It’s just another one of those things that makes you lose interest in your career goals. So do whatever it is you do for leisure.
It doesn’t even have to be relaxation. If sports helps you clear your mind then make sure you make time to do that.
It’s just important that you have stuff going on in your life that’s not related to your career.
5. Break Your Goals Down
If you just have one big picture goal, every day won’t necessarily feel like a day where you have gotten any closer to that goal.
Have some overall career goals of course that you want to base your working life around, but break those down into smaller ones.
At the beginning of every year set a goal that you want to achieve by the end of that year and work towards that.
But go deeper than that, set one for every month and then set daily ones too. The daily ones should be easily achievable.
Of course, they’ll only be ones that are only easily achievable if you are working hard and being diligent, but they shouldn’t be putting much strain on you.
Having a goal that you can reach every single day that is related to one of your overall goals will keep you motivated. You’ll constantly feel like you’re in motion towards your destination.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you, is that if you are doing all of this and you still feel disillusioned, maybe it is time for a change.
While I believe that setting career-goals will help you even in a job you have no passion for, if you’re still miserable, you’re still miserable.
But that’s okay, don’t be afraid to change rework your career goals and switch go a different industry. No matter where you are, these same principles still apply.