When it comes to your career, it can be all too easy to let yourself get caught up in the day-to-day tasks at hand and completely lose sight of you longer-term goals. While it is important to give your daily tasks their due focus and energy, those who aspire to achieve more over the course of their career should take the time to put some thought into how they might be able to progress their career.
The good news is that there are definitive and practical steps that can be taken to achieve your long-term goals. Furthermore, these are things that can be done without having to compromise the effort that you are used to putting into your daily work.
1) Earn an Advanced Degree
While it isn't always necessary to earn an advanced degree in order to be more successful in your career in the long run, most industries favor those with higher education. This is because an advanced degree shows that you have the knowledge and skill that it takes to excel in your line of work. Moreover, the education you receive when you enrol in an advanced degree programme will better equip you to achieve those long-term goals that you have set for yourself.
Once you decide to pursue an advanced degree, the first thing you will want to do is evaluate what type of degree you should pursue. Do your career aspirations require that you earn a master's degree of some sort, or will you need to reach even higher by going for a doctorate? The exact degree that you decide upon will depend on the industry you are in and the level you hope to get to one within that industry.
The thought of earning a degree while continuing on in your job can be a daunting one at best. You might already feel that your time is pretty much all accounted for. Nevertheless, it might take some short-term sacrifices in order to reach your long-term goals.
Your best option might be to enrol in an online degree programme from a top-notch university in Exeter like University of Exeter. This will make it easier for you to complete the necessary course work while also being able to dedicate the required effort to your job.
2) Find Your Motivation
It is incredibly difficult to reach your long-term career goals without having enough motivation to do so. Because these goals are essentially your end-game and could take years to achieve, motivation can be hard to come by. Thankfully, there are some strategies you can implement in order to find and keep your motivation.
Firstly, evaluate what your long-term goals are and why they are important to you. Without the right reasons behind them, your goals might prove incredibly difficult to achieve. If after some evaluation you find that the goals you initially laid out for yourself aren't driven by reasons that are meaningful to you, then you might need to come up with better ones that are based on things that matter to you.
Next, try to lay out the short-term achievements that are going to lead to your long-term goals. These achievements, although not your final objective, are the important steps you take towards that end goal. Seeing success in the short term can give you those feelings of accomplishment that will help propel you forward.
For example, if you know that earning your master's degree is a critical step to landing the promotion you have your eye on, take the opportunities to celebrate all the little victories that you will achieve while you earn your degree. Furthermore, even though your graduation isn't technically your end goal, make sure to give yourself due credit for that accomplishment as well.
3) Write Your Goals Down
It might sound a bit silly, but the act of physically writing out your goals can go a long way to helping you reach them. Not only does writing things out by hand help further engrain them into your mind, but you will be surprised at how helpful it is to have a reminder that you can look to in those moments where perseverance is required.
Getting such things down on paper is also a great way to help you hone and clearly define your goals. When you first thought about your long-term career goals, they were very likely vague ideas about how high you wanted to climb in your industry. It is very difficult to chase a vague dream, though.
If you want to be truly serious about reaching your goals in the long run they need to be clearly defined. Because writing things down helps you to think things through better, this is a highly recommended step to take. Not only will this give you a frame of reference for your goals when things become difficult along the way, but such a step can help increase the commitment you have made to your career thus helping you to stay motivated when you need to the most.
4) Find a Mentor
Mentorships are one of the best ways to help you grow in your career. Not only does learning from someone else's experience add to your own, but you have the benefit of being able to have someone that you can reach out to directly whenever you have questions about your job. This is a person who would theoretically already be in the place that you see yourself in one day, so they will be able to give you first-hand knowledge and advice about what it takes to get there.
Finding the right mentor might take some time. Not only are you looking for someone who has achieved some or all of the things you hope to achieve one day, but this person must also be someone that you connect with. They must be eager and willing to share their experiences while also being capable of giving constrictive criticism in a positive way.
If this sounds like a tall order to fill, that's because it is. Not everyone is cut out to be a mentor just because they have achieved a great deal. Nevertheless, there are a fair few professionals out there who are happy to share their experiences with those who hope to achieve more.
You might first inquire with your company to see if they already have a mentorship programme in place. If so, find out how to put your name on the list of those looking for a mentor. If not, there are definitely ways to find a mentor in a more informal way.
Have a look at those who are in your professional network to see if anyone meets the criteria you have in mind for your mentor. While it might feel a bit awkward striking up this conversation, more likely than not the person you have in mind will be honoured to know that you look up to them enough to ask them to be your professional mentor.
5) Be Ready for the Unexpected
Just because you take the time to set your career goals and are taking active steps to reach them, it doesn't mean that some unexpected bumps in the road won't occur. Because of this, it is important that you are always ready for the unexpected when it comes to your career. Keep your eye on your goals, but be flexible enough to adapt if need be.
The unexpected doesn't always denote something negative happening, either. Something unexpectedly great might happen that helps you towards your goal much faster than you anticipated. If this happens, are you ready to rise to the occasion? Moreover, are you the type of person who is going to want to set new goals for your long-term career? Flexibility in your career is always a good quality to have whether the unexpectedly bad or unexpectedly good should occur.
6) Take Care of Yourself
It can be difficult sometimes to strike the right balance between your career and self-care. Nevertheless, you won't be able to enjoy or truly achieve all your long-term career goals unless you take the necessary measures to maintain and promote your own physical and mental well-being.
Working towards advancing your career is going to be a mentally trying time full of its fair share of stress. Hard work takes its toll on the mind as well as the body. For this reason, it is a good idea to take steps to develop and implement a solid mental wellness regimen. Start by focusing on getting enough sleep on a nightly basis. You will be surprised at how much easier it can be to manage and handle the stress of your job when you are well rested.
A good diet and plenty of exercise are also great ways of making sure that you stay physically fit. It is common knowledge that there is a direct correlation between your mental and your physical health. In order to maintain both, take the necessary measures to avoid neglecting either.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist