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Changing your career goals

The end of every year provides an opportunity for self-reflection and with each New Year that passes, it brings along a tide of renewed ambitions and goals as people attempt to take on new challenges and for some, this includes a change in career. People decide to change careers for a variety of different reasons, such as a change in personal and professional goals or values, the pursuit of new interests and passions, wanting to earn more money or even the desire to work more flexible hours.

A great portion of our lives are spent working to make a living, but when money is the primary objective and fulfilment is left aside, one begs the question if that truly constitutes a ‘living.’

In order to decide whether a shift in career goals is necessary for you, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your current personal situation and assess whether or not your career objectives already align with your personal and professional fulfilment. Do you love and enjoy what you do? Is it meaningful work? Are you being challenged to learn and grow? These are all crucial questions to consider in leading a satisfying professional career.

Review our top tips for changing your career goals:

1. Evaluate and self-reflect

The first step in resetting career goals starts with self-reflection and evaluating what you have achieved in your current role. Ask yourself which aspects you like and dislike about the role and where this dissatisfaction stems from. For example, is it related to the company culture or the actual content of your work?

So too, this self-reflection encompasses knowing and understanding what is important to you. This helps determine long-lasting career goals. In particular, are your core values and skills aligned within your current position, or will they be in the future with promotion? Jobs that align with your values or will in the near future, typically make goals easier to achieve due to feelings of meaningfulness and satisfaction often associated with them. When looking to change your career goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I want to make this change?
  • What do I expect to gain from this change?
  • How will my career be approved from this change?

It is important to be open and honest with yourself in discovering why you want to make this change and what you how to achieve from it.

2. Investigate the decision

When making the decision to change careers, ask yourself why have you decided to change careers and why is it important to achieve your goals? Goals should be positive, challenging and rewarding in achieving and so if there is a lack of want in working towards them, then it is a poorly constructed goal, which increases the chance of failure. Understanding the meaning, purpose and desire for establishing these goals raises the responsibility and possibility of committing to them long-term.

Once these personal motives are known to yourself and it is decided that your professional needs are not being met, it can be really useful to undertake research in possible career alternatives. Research provides a great foundation on which you can assess career options and know what you require in order to be successful in your new career. Brainstorm ideas and share them with a few industry contacts to receive professional advice and feedback. As with every big decision, assess the risk versus reward ratio as those who are successful generally do not leave everything to chance.

3. Design your change in career

The next step in reshaping your career goals is to design an effective plan to implement them. Begin by ‘breaking it down’ so this process does not become overwhelming. Start by understanding the big picture, the overall goal and then break down into smaller, manageable pieces, the stepping stones to your success.

It might be useful to write these steps down, including the obstacles you may face in achieving them. Once identified, design your solutions or actions you can take to work around these challenges. Make these more tangible by setting a time frame of when each action needs to be achieved. Some are simple to enact, while others are more complex. Remember, that you are the driving force for these goals to be achieved and have the tools to work through a plethora professional challenges that may seek to inhibit you from reaching them.

4. Assess, reward and then re-evaluate

Re-evaluation is a crucial step in managing the direction of your career. When new obstacles arise, new solutions need to be developed, and new actions to be taken. If this process is becoming too overwhelming, you may find you need to press the reset button and return to the evaluation stage. From here, you can see how your values, or goals have changed and consequently how you can better redefine your professional career.

Assess whether you are achieving your goals, steps or actions. If fulfilled, reward yourself accordingly to the size of the goal and ensure the reward happens immediately after achievement. This will recognise the efforts on your part and encourage motivation and commitment to achieving further goals.

Career development and progression can be full of surprises, changes and may not always be linear. Following these four stages provides you with a framework in which you have the capability to reset your career goals and ambitions and work towards making a positive change towards professional fulfilment and success. Take responsibility for your career direction and starting working towards on that aligns with your ambitions and goals.

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