Where are you going? (Part 1)

If you don’t set your own goals, other people will set them for you.

When you have no clear idea of where you want to get to, it’s too easy for others to make decisions for you. Don’t let other people hijack your life and direct it according to their preconceptions.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know you’ve arrived? How will you know where to focus your time, efforts and resources?

With only finite amounts of time, energy, money and so on, it would be a shame to waste any of it. If you’ve chosen the right goals and planned carefully how to reach them, there’s far less risk of going down blind alleys or covering old ground again.

And, if you keep your eye constantly fixed on the end point, how can you be sure you don’t miss important moments en route?

There’s got to be pleasure in the journey – after all we’re talking about your life here and, if everything on the way to your goal is just a hard and joyless slog, it’ll be a miracle if you make it.

There have to be shorter-term goals to mark your progress and to give you the opportunity to reward yourself as you achieve them.

By the way, don’t forget the other people in your life. How will your goals affect them? What are the benefits for them? How many of your goals can you share?

Tip: Sadly, we ourselves are often the easiest people to cheat on so, if it’s only your goal, don’t keep it to yourself. Find someone you trust to be supportive, tell them what you’re aiming for and ask them to check how you’re getting on every so often.

How to be resource-full.

Another limiting belief that may hold you back is the idea that you don’t have what you need to succeed so something you should always do as part of your planning for your goal is to review your resources.

These might be things that you have like a computer or a car; it might be books you own or tools.

Then there’s the people you know or you’ve known in the past: family, friends, colleagues – any contacts you’ve made, even a long time ago.

What about all the things you’ve learned, whether in formal education or from reading, TV, experience?

Get all of these down on paper and add to it as and when you remember others.

Another resource you need to consider is time: how much do you have to devote to your goal and, if necessary, how can you create more?

A role model can be a very valuable resource. Among the people you know are there examples of those who have already achieved the same or a similar goal? Can you use their example to help you? (It needn’t be a real person – how about a character in a film or book – how did they accomplish what you’re trying to achieve? How could that help you?)

And what about you and the qualities and abilities you have? Note them all down as well. And I mean all: can you play tennis/ the piano? They may not seem directly relevant to your current goal but think about what they say about your manual dexterity or physical agility which could be significant.

Do you have a lot of patience? Are you a quick learner? What kind of learner are you and how does that impact on your goal?

It’s good to sit down and get as much of this on paper at one time as you can but it can also help to leave the list around for a while so that you add other things as they occur to you. Stick it on the fridge, for example, and maybe other people will point out things you’ve forgotten.

The point of this is to remind yourself of the many resources you can call on; to help you remember something that might be useful further down the line and to increase your confidence in your ability to achieve your aims.

It should also help you to see the resources you need but don’t have yet and this is your next list. Think about what you need and where you can find it. Don’t forget to check back to your first list to see if there’s anybody or anything on it that can help here.

Dos and don’ts of reinventing your career.

Do ignore the naysayers who’d have you believe that going for your dream job is unrealistic: they’re very keen for you to be “sensible” and “pragmatic”.

But if this is what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life, you need to go after the biggest and the best that you can possibly get – settling for something “sensible” will leave you bored and frustrated.

Do take the time and make the effort to explore the critical factors that will help you find the work that fits you like a pair of handmade shoes.

You need to be very clear about what values are important to you, what your preferences are in terms of interests, locations, colleagues etc and what resources you have or need to acquire.

Do make the process of clarifying the critical factors as fun and creative as you can: use MindMaps with lots of colour and pictures. Create a mood board with pictures from magazines to illustrate what you’re aiming for so that you have concrete evidence of your goals to inspire you.

Do find yourself a buddy who can give you support and cheer you on: maybe someone who wants to change their life for the better, too, so you can help each other out. A word of warning, though – choose carefully! You need someone who can be objective and won’t just use the opportunity to tell you all about their experiences.

Do consider investing in professional help – then you know you’ll get the objectivity and support you need for as long as you need it.

Don’t assume that you’ve failed if you don’t get what you’re aiming for exactly as you want it or immediately. Put the idea of failure out of your mind – you’ve only “failed” if you’ve given up trying!

Don’t let other people put you off. If you’ve done your research and preparation carefully and thoroughly and you know it’s what you want, go for it.

Don’t forget the benefits of your success for other people – seeing someone else achieving their dream career is very inspiring and motivating for the people around you.

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