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Ten Steps to Reaching Your Career Goal

Search AmericaBy Harvey M. Weiner, Managing Partner
Search America 

This is the season in which most of us review the past, beat ourselves up over missed opportunities, and reestablish goals for the future. Here's my ten step program to help get you and keep you on track.

1. Be sure your goals are really your goals not someone else's. Are you working in the field and in the way you selected, or are you trying to carry out your parents' or a counselor's definition of success? Those who pursue their own dreams derive true joy from their accomplishments while those who are other-directed experience the counterfeit pleasure of satisfying someone else's expectations. If you often notice that you seek the approval and recognition of others, ask yourself, "just whose life is this anyway?" Then act accordingly and, if warranted, take charge.

2. Specifically and clearly define your goals. It has been said many times, if you don't know where you're going how will you know when you get there? If accumulation of material wealth is the goal, how much will you need before you're satisfied? If it's job satisfaction, how do you define that? It's different for each of us. If spiritual growth is the goal, well, that journey can begin today, can't it? All that's required is your decision. The same goes for being a better person, spending more time with the family, dealing empathetically with employees and members. Got the picture? Some things, you just have to do.

3. Divide large goals into manageable components then establish deadlines. Set shorter-term objectives in realistically achievable steps. Take too big a bite and you'll choke. For example if you ultimately want to manage one of the top ten clubs in the country then you must first pursue the requisite education and experience. While you're thinking about it, go sign up for appropriate seminars and move toward achieving that CCM certification you just haven't gotten around to.

Get your boss to buy-in to your career plan and secure his/her promise of help. But, if s/he's not supportive, find a better mentor without delay. Give yourself a reasonable timeline for accomplishment of each step then stick tenaciously to your deadlines.

4. Take care of business. Continue to do your current job to the best of your ability. Don't slack-off. Obsession with the future risks your ability to produce in the present. You could forfeit the foundation on which you project building a future.

5. Catalogue your assets. What do you have in common with those exceptional people who are now doing what you ultimately want to do? Which of their qualities would you like to emulate? List them. Then, list your personal and professional assets, and on a third list write down what you must do to be as you want to be. If that includes behavior, then you have the power to decide right now to begin behaving the way you want. After all, what's stopping you? Do it long enough and routinely enough and eventually it will become a natural part of your behavior. Actions not credentials hanging on the wall make you a decent human being.

6. Identify obstacles. What's standing between you and your ultimate goal? Is it more experience? More seasoning? An opportunity to shine? Exposure to career-makers? Whatever the hurdle, you must first identify it before you can overcome it.

If it's greater exposure you want, then introduce yourself to the headhunters of your industry; make it a point to show up when your boss and the boss's boss are around; be visible, accessible, flexible, reachable. Develop and nurture relationships, particularly with those who can be instrumental in bringing you together with opportunity. Surround yourself with people of quality whose values reflect the type person you want to be. We are remembered not by what we have in life but who we have in our lives.

7. Seek the input of others. As you move along your chosen path, ask for feedback from those who have a stake in your progress a spouse, your boss, a trusted employee, a board member, mentor, friend, etc. You may think you're doing just fine but if their perception is contrary to yours then take heed and redirect your effort.

8. Give yourself a periodic report card. Record comments made to you and/or about you. What did you learn from your last performance evaluation? How are you doing in establishing relationships with career-makers? Which educational courses have you completed and which are you registered to take? When? How's your attitude? Are you sincerely making the effort to achieve the goals you established for yourself? How does current feedback compare with a year ago, six months ago?

9. Keep your eye on the target. Find you get down on yourself or question the value of achieving the goal? The take another look at those who are there already. Do you think they let a setback put them on their rear? Growth comes to those who recognize, confront, and master the challenge.

10. It takes a long time to become the person you want to be. Be reasonably patient with yourself. Don't compare yourself to the best others can do, but to the best you are capable of. Develop the habit of gifting yourself when things go right, or you overcome an obstacle, or suddenly realize you're doing for a living what's really of value in your life. Celebrate that you can keep going long after you think you can't.

Harvey Weiner, Managing Partner of Search America private club management search & consulting, is an agenda-setting, trusted advisor to club leadership since 1974. 800.977.1784 
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