Goal setting is not a new concept. You learned how to set goals years ago. That doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it. Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
Setting goals is like building a house. You can’t avoid proper planning, drawing and finalizing your blueprints, visualizing what you have in mind, etc. In other words, you build the house or you don’t. You don’t build “half” a house or only build it “part way”.
Chances are you’ll never win an award for World’s Best Goal Setter but that won’t keep you from striving to improve your life. So, start by choosing ONE goal you want to accomplish. It should be S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (Doran).
1. Let Go
One of the major challenges to job search goal setting is letting go of any anger, resentment, sense of shame, that are paired with blaming yourself or others for your current situation. Not letting go can be one of the biggest barriers to reaching your goal.
2. Assess Your Job Search Strengths
List 3-5 strengths you possess that will assist you in reaching your goal. These could include anything from being an early bird or detail-oriented, having a strong support system or the means to hire a career coach, or possessing a naturally positive attitude or a strong sense of self-perseverance.
3. Acknowledge Your Job Search Weaknesses
Fully acknowledge your weaknesses that exist and have probably prevented you form reaching similar goals in the past. These could include the tendency to be externally versus internally motivated, poor self-esteem, a deep-seated belief that you will never actually accomplish your goal, physical or emotional exhaustion, using alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism, a tendency toward procrastination, lack of support and others.
4. Manage Around Your Weaknesses
Look your weaknesses squarely in the eye, refer to them instead as opportunities for improvement and list 1-3 ways you can manage around them such as enlisting the help of a coach or goal partner who you don’t want to disappoint and will help keep you on track till the end. Also, for poor self-esteem, look at yourself in the mirror every morning and tell yourself you are truly worth the effort. Adjust your schedule to get better sleep and nutrition.
5. Visualize Job Search Success
Sounds corny but it’s true: your goal must be clearly “in sight” just like the blueprint needed to build a house. Use guided imagery: close your eyes and mentally walk yourself through the process details from start to finish. Use this visualization technique every morning to start your day and to launch into the next step toward reaching your goal.
6. Create and Complete Daily Success Rituals
To maintain your focus, build in mini-rituals throughout your day to help maintain momentum. It could include: 5 minutes of quiet reflective time at 2pm, self-affirmations and related, checking in with your coach or goal partner, a walk around the block, etc.
7. Start and Stay the Course
Pick a starting point for your goal in terms of time and actual activity. Break activities into small, manageable chunks and incorporate them into your daily routines OR break them into a series of mini projects that will be completed within a single time frame. Whatever you choose, stick with it. Mark your calendar or use a free countdown application for fun. Use your job search strengths and manage around your weaknesses. Reach your goal and celebrate!