You are happier when you are making progress toward your career goals.
You know this, and decades of research confirms it.
Whether you are the CEO of a company, an emerging entrepreneur, or have set out on a path of career reinvention, setting and achieving goals makes you happier, more effective, and even more prosperous.
On your way to achieving your goals, you will stall out. You will encounter resistance, the doldrums, setbacks, the muddling middle. It may look like this:
Things are taking longer than you expected.
You lose your energy, enthusiasm, and momentum.
You start to wonder, “Is it worth it? What if I fail? Am I up to this task? Will anyone find value in what I’m attempting?”
Every single successful person you know has these doubts, whether they admit it (to themselves, to you, to others), or not.
This is a predictable chasm that successful people cross. You’ve made it to the finish line before. Research and practical wisdom show that you can do it again with a bit of encouragement, intention, and effort.
Whatever the reason for this interruption, don’t give up. Consider one or all of these ideas below; they will spark your momentum and get you back on track to achieving your career goals.
1. Look for the simplicity in the complexity. There are a few things you can do to get clarity. Have you written your goals down where you can see them? Do you prioritize each morning by asking what 3 things need to get done today? Are you doing a weekly review?
2. Work the problem by asking questions first. Notice that I didn’t say to jump in and work the problem itself. That’s because, chances are, you need to step away to find the answer and the clarity. Another step to take is a step away – go for a walk, where research shows your mind is more creative and can serve up ideas and solutions.
3. Take the next best step. A few more steps will follow. You don’t have to do everything all at once. If your business or team is developing a new product to solve a problem, remember that it took time for the problem to develop, and it will take time to solve it.
4. Recalibrate if necessary. If your goal is taking longer than you anticipated to achieve, that is frustrating, but all too common. Research on the planning fallacy shows that many of us are overly optimistic about how long it will take to achieve a result.
If you are doing weekly reviews, you will spot the factors that are delaying you, and you can make fixes – both big and small.
5. Resist perfectionism. Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination. Look objectively at your progress – there will likely have been small wins along the way. Research shows that recognizing them energizes you toward the next win.
6. Treat yourself! Listen to something that inspires you – music or podcasts. In his famous TED talk, “The Transformative Power of Classical Music,” conductor Benjamin Zander says that classical music will help you unleash new possibilities and connections.
Try one of the Top 10 Podcasts for Sales Professionals and Leaders (even if you’re not in sales, it is worthwhile to think like a good rep!) or the All Time Top 10 Podcasts for Bosses. I recommend these podcasts because they resonate with authentic stories and ideas – and reassure you that you are not alone in your quest to achieve your goals.
Don’t give up. Think about why your goals are important, and what will become possible for you if you keep taking one step at a time. Remember what a wise person said:
“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” – Mark Twain
I’d love to hear from you – what challenge or opportunity is on your mind and how can I help? You can reach me directly at Caren@carenmerrick.com – I respond to all of my emails and look forward to learning more about you!