Like many millennials, I have a strong desire to be a part of something big.
Just thinking about working for a cutting-edge tech company, the next groundbreaking mobile app, being involved with a major video game studio and working to help grow the popularity of martial arts worldwide gets me pumped up! But these are all big goals, the kind that you don’t achieve overnight. Or even a lifetime, if you don’t have a plan to get there.
The truth is, there are a lot of small steps along the way to achieving a major life goal. In order to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed, I like to break things down into much smaller goals instead. This way I can tackle several of these smaller goals at a time and feel like I’m making progress. Here are five examples of smaller (in most cases) career goals that I’ve set for myself.
1. Improve My Writing Skills
This one may sound pretty broad, but bear with me for a moment. Writing is something I’ve been doing my entire life. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed, and is the easiest way for me to express what I’m feeling. I studied Professional Writing in university, and I like to think that I’m pretty good at it. But you never really finish learning how to write. There are always aspects of your writing that could be improved, tweaked, and tailored.
And that’s a good thing.
Skills that can be continually improved throughout your lifetime come with an easy source of motivation. After all, doesn’t it feel great when you notice yourself getting better at something?
I’m improving my writing by learning to write for audiences that I’ve never written for before. In my day-to-day work, I mostly write for a business/research-focused audience, so the opportunity to write for an inspired generation of up and coming professionals (like you, dear TalentEgg reader) is a fun new challenge for me.
2. Get a Graduate Degree
This one could be called a medium-term goal, I suppose. One of the parts I enjoyed most about my undergraduate education was gaining the communications and technology skills that I learned through the Professional Writing program at UVic. These are relevant, practical skills that I use regularly in my day-to-day life. In order to advance as far as I can in my career, I believe it is important to develop these skills even further. This is why I plan to pursue a graduate degree in Professional Communications after gaining more work experience.
In the same way that an undergraduate degree is the gateway into the working world for many millennials, a graduate degree can be seen as the ladder that helps you get over the wall between you and the next big opportunity.
3. Learn a New Skill or Develop an Old One (That IS Related To My Job)
Try to avoid getting too comfortable at work, or with your existing skillset. In university, I was taught about the concept of “continuous learning.” People who are continuous learners make it their goal to constantly learn more about the world around them (whether that be their job, office, worksite, city, country, etc.). They work steadily to improve themselves and the work that they do.
In my case, I try to take on tasks beyond my usual duties whenever they arise. For example, when an opportunity to edit a colleague’s work, work with one of the research teams, or anything else slightly different from my day-to-day norm comes up, I try to jump on that chance as quickly as possible. I’d also recommend joining any committees existing in your workplace (such as a Health and Safety Committee, or a Sport and Social Committee). Not only will you get to know your coworkers better, you’ll also get the chance to develop new skills outside of your usual duties.
The more tools in your kit, the more adaptable you can be!
4. Get to Know a Topic That has Absolutely Nothing To Do With My Job
Now it’s time for a change of pace. This might seem a little out of field, or not seem like much of a career goal at all. But what happens when the daily grind of work starts to wear you down? What if you wake up one day and just don’t feel like chasing any of your career goals?
It happens to the best of us and it’s no reason to panic or stress out.
As much as we like to talk about how important it is to work your hardest at school and work, you also need to have other elements to your life. We all have different ways that we like to relax, but we can still be using this downtime to better ourselves and gain new skills. I like to set goals for myself that have little to do with my professional life. These goals allow me to keep continuously learning new things, even if those things aren’t work-related.
Take up a musical instrument or a martial art. Play a sport. Learn to paint, or program a computer, or learn to build wine racks and other cool decorative stuff out of old wooden palettes (seriously, I have a friend who does this – it’s awesome). Just do something that challenges you mentally or physically, and helps focus your mind.
For me personally, I’m learning Jiu-Jitsu, and I absolutely love it. A good night on the mats usually translates into a productive day at work the next day. Whatever it is that interests you, make sure you are doing it! Also, let me know about it. I’m always interested in trying new things!
We all have big dreams. But setting smaller, achievable goals while we’re working towards long-term career success can really build your confidence, inspire you to think differently and give you ample reason to smile. Developing yourself outside of work will help you to become a lifelong learner who is eager to take on new opportunities with enthusiasm. And who knows! Maybe one day, the skills you’ve learned outside of work will become incredibly handy at work as well. All in all, there is little to lose from taking the time to reach new heights via learning-only gain.
So don’t wait—achieve!