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Let's talk about goals

If you spend a bit of time googling how to make progress in your career it’s highly likely that blog after blog will tell you about the importance of setting goals. It can seem utterly overwhelming. There are multiple methodologies with mystifying acronyms like OKRs, BHAG, OGSM and SMART; there are pyramids and circles; there are apps to track your progress; and top tips about how to be more successful in achieving your goals, ‘this time’.

And if that’s not exhausting enough, then there’s inevitably that sinking feeling you have to contend with when you realise you’re not ‘achieving’ enough against the framework you’ve chosen. So what to do about it?

At Voco we believe that some people really benefit from setting goals and having a structured plan for making progress towards them, and that some people find a rigid approach demoralising and unhelpful. Put simply, we don’t think there is one winning way to set goals and smash ‘em. And that everyone should approach goal setting in the way that works for them.

Outcomes not outputs

We also believe having a clear idea of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there is helpful - and we feel strongly that the, ahem, goal should be the outcome not the output of that journey. Success should be about the way you feel about your career not how many ‘things’ you’ve ticked off a list.

Put it this way: a promotion might seem like a sensible goal but actually it’s an output that might help you get closer to your desired outcome of feeling like you’re learning something new and being more engaged in your job. The promotion isn’t the goal, the ultimate feeling of accomplishment is.

Now, everyone should do what works for them when it comes to mapping out their career paths and setting out their personal measures of success - so we encourage you to experiment with different types of goal setting to find what works best for you.

But we also encourage all Voco members to really think about the outcomes you want to achieve, not just the outputs along the way. How do you really want to feel about your career? How will you know when you get there? Are you being honest with yourself about what you really want? Or are you letting the expectations of others influence your thinking and self-worth?

A step at a time

We also think there’s a difference between goals - which might be a very few really big and transformative outcomes - and actions, which could be micro-steps along a path you’re just starting to follow. Sometimes the best way you can achieve real change is by doing lots of small, non-scary things that ladder up to a bigger aim.

Finally, we want to remind you that just because you don’t reach all the goals - or outcomes - you set yourself, doesn't mean you’ve failed. Not at all. It simply means you’re further along your journey to transforming how you feel about work. And your Voco community is here to help you along the way, providing support, counsel, insight and accountability so you can take control of your career, on your own terms.

You can update your goals on your Voco Profile at any time - and we recommend you use your initial Voco conversations to help clarify and define them as you go.

And remember they don’t have to be big and audacious, sometimes it’s best to break your ambitions down into bite-size pieces that together add up to something bigger.