Career Resolutions…Improved!

Scholarship has shown that making incremental changes is far more effective than a results-oriented approach. Why not give yourself the edge in meeting your goals by shifting to a goal mindset?

How many of you made New Years Resolutions around your career this year?  I have definitely made some goals for myself (notice the use of the word goals…it’s important as you will soon see). Gwen Moran recently wrote a piece published at Fast Company that you may want to see before we get too far into the New Year; it might inspire you to make some tweaks to your resolutions that can make them easier to keep.  In the article, she gives tips to help transform the Five Most Common Career Resolutions into resolutions that are easier to achieve…and easier to keep! Here are her suggestions:

Old Resolution:  Land a promotion
New Resolution:  Make a move that will benefit long term career goals

Old Resolution:  Network more
New Resolution:  Network thoughtfully

Old Resolution:  Find a mentor
New Resolution:  Find a guide

Old Resolution:  Spend less time on social media
New Resolution:  Be strategic with social media

Old Resolution:  Be more productive
New Resolution:  Focus on outcomes

I find that her suggestions make far more sense.  For example, the first resolution to land a promotion is based on too many outside factors that you cannot influence as an employee.  If your company isn’t growing or is facing a stagnant or declining revenue forecast due to any number of issues, then asking for a promotion might as well be the career equivalent of walking on water. Plus, you are ultimately relying on your boss to make the decision to give you the promotion, which means you can’t make it happen no matter how exemplary you are…someone else ultimately controls the outcome.

The resolution on networking is also interesting.  I recently read Are There Any Good Jobs Left? by R. William Holland.  One of his rather striking observations is that f0r all of the emphasis placed on the power of networking in a job search, the value of networking is A) extremely hard to study (relying on a “hidden job market” that no one can objectively measure makes it impossible to measure networking’s effectiveness) and B) studies that have been done show that it is more important to network with connectors than with a huge number of people.

Remember how I said I had made career goals for myself, rather than resolutions?  One of the reasons I was specific in that terminology is because setting goals allows you to take a longer term view and measure your progress incrementally, whereas resolutions tend to be more accomplishment oriented and thus more of a “Did I get it done or not?” kind of thing.  Take a look at Gwen’s changes again…notice how all of them are basically a shift in language and focus from the old, outcome-based model to a new, longer-term progress model?  What Gwen is recommending in the long run is shifting towards a goal mindset, rather than a results mindset.

Scholarship has shown that making incremental changes is far more effective than a results-oriented approach.  Why not give yourself the edge in meeting your goals by shifting to a goal mindset?

Interested in learning more about how incremental changes have the power to reap huge changes?  Pick up a copy of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.  It’s an amazing look at some of the best scholarship around changing habits and achieving goals…see my review here!

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