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How To Stay Focused On Your Career Goals

how to stay focused on your goals

The majority of people do not regularly set goals and 90%-97% fail to achieve them [1]. This is true whether a goal pertains to personal or professional achievement, whether or not it informs a person’s job search, and — perhaps most importantly — regardless of how important the goal is believed to be.

How to Achieve Career-Related Goals

When it comes to career goals, specifically, the chances of goal achievement are low: 90% of people are not working their “dream job” and about three-quarters never will.

This tendency towards underachievement can have significant consequences for people searching for jobs in Vancouver. Underachievement is why about 71% of employed adults are currently engaged in some type of job search process — more than half because they are seeking opportunities for career advancement, and the rest because of some type of unhappy work environment and/or under-compensation. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to stay focused on what you truly want.

Yet some habits are empirically proven to have a compounding effect on the odds of goal achievement (and, for job seekers, job search success). That is why the best way to stay focused on your goals is to:

STEP 1: Practice SMARTER Goal Setting

Regardless of which job market sector you are in or aim to enter, SMARTER goal setting can notably improve the odds of achieving your career goals. SMARTER goals are, by definition:

  • Specific
  • Meaningful
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Sensitive
  • Evaluative
  • Readjustable

Creating goals that fit this model increases the rate of goal achievement to approximately 17% [8].

STEP 2: Write Goals Down & Revisit Them

Writing down goals — especially when looking for jobs in Vancouver — has an immediate, dramatic impact on your chances of success. So, too, does creating a daily routine during which you remind yourself of your goals and establish daily goal-directed actions. For example, many high-achievers swear by a process of:

  • Organizing their day ahead of time (the night before);
  • Prioritizing energy-intensive tasks;
  • Making time to regenerate; and
  • Remaining aware of how daily movements impact progress toward end goals.

Writing down and revisiting goals in this way raises the rate of achievement to about 42%.

STEP 3: Make A Concrete (Written) Plan

Writing about goals, what is necessary to achieve them, and how to approach those tasks creates a positive feedback loop for success. Studies show that these types of actions can significantly improve the quality and success-rates of even unrelated tasks. Moreover, achieving small tasks is psychologically rewarding, further motivating progress toward long-term goals.

That is why clearly articulating intermediate goals has a positive impact on task performance and productivity (increasing goal achievement rates to 50.8%).

STEP 4: Form Implementation Intentions, Not Just Goal Intentions

A “goal intention” is a simple objective: I will accomplish X. An “implementation intention” sets up protocols to drive progress even when facing complications: If Y happens, then I will do [goal-directed action]. Put simply, implementation intentions account for barriers to the progressive, intermediate task completion that is necessary for goal achievement.

More than just preparing for worst-case scenarios, this process sets up trigger points for evaluating and readjusting the plan. This is especially important when navigating the job market; it prevents “stalling out” if specific job openings or opportunities are inaccessible.

Creating implementation intentions increases the chances of goal achievement to 65%.

STEP 5: Be Accountable For Task Performance

Accountability-building is an essential component of goal achievement. You can build simple accountability by creating a list or regularly telling someone about upcoming tasks and deadlines.

Yet the most effective accountability-building method any person can follow is to create a weekly report of task progress and completion, then share it with a third party. The average rate of goal achievement rises to as much as 76% by following such an accountability system.


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