What’s on Your Career Bucket List?

Written by: Lorrie Coffey, Horizon Point Consulting

The end of the school year brings final exams, award ceremonies, parties, and best of all, summer. My boys have been counting down the days. And with their countdown comes the usual question I face every year.

“What are we doing this summer?”

I always try to do fun things with them throughout the summer that they will each enjoy. But with three boys ranging from 9 to 15, that’s not always easy. Their interests don’t always match up. What my nine-year-old finds thrilling, my fifteen-year-old finds more boring than watching paint dry.

So this year, I’m putting the decision making in their hands. I’ve tasked each of them with creating a summer bucket list. The parameters are:

  • Something we can all do together.
  • Nothing really over the top cost wise.
  • Things that can be done in a day (no more than a two-hour drive one way).
  • At least four items on each of their lists needs to be educational.

I’ve also asked each of them to give me at least three longer trips they’d like to take. Together we’ll pick one.

Our Leaders as Career Agents training helps employees create a career bucket list. Participants are asked where they want to be in their careers in one, three, five, and ten years. Then they are asked to set goals that will help them get there.

Goals need to be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based.

A Harvard Business study showed that only 17% of participants set goals, and only 3% of those actually wrote down their goals. The 14% who had goals in mind were ten times more likely to be successful than those who didn’t set goals. And the 3% who wrote down their goals were even more successful.

Setting goals is only the first step in succeeding. I recently read an article about goal setting that made a great point. View your goals in terms of “I am” instead of “I will.” Focus on how am I going to start taking action to achieve the goal now versus I’ll work on achieving the goal at some point.

Find ways to keep your goals front and center. A few years ago my sister-in-law decided to lose some weight. To keep her goal in mind and help keep her from cheating on her diet, she found a picture of herself before she gained the extra weight and stuck it on her refrigerator door to remind herself what she was working towards. In the context of your career, it may mean having regular performance meetings with your manager or finding a mentor in your organization that can help you achieve your goals. It may mean blocking out time on your calendar each week to work on your goals.

So where do you see yourself in a year, or ten? And how are you going to get there?

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