For many of us, our lives are planned out from the moment we attend high school. Whether through our parents, teachers or our own ambitions, goals are set in front of us at a young age.
I had everything planned out too. I was going to attend business school and become an Enrolled Agent for the IRS. But when I started going down this path I realized that all the things I thought I wanted didn’t carry the importance they used to.
In other words, my priorities changed and as I continued pursuing them they began hurting my career, by stifling my creativity and stunting my career’s future growth. I had to learn to adapt and re-evaluate everything. Here are three reasons why your long-term goals are hurting your career and how to ditch them for the better.
As human beings we often underestimate the potential of what we can accomplish. Having a specific long-term plan leaves no room for trying new things or experimenting with new ideas. We push ourselves to this predetermined limit and then stop, often stunting our growth in pursuit of the original goal.
Focusing in on specific goals can actually keep you from noticing valuable opportunities along the way. Have you ever watched the Awareness test that asks you to count the number of basketball passes one team makes? While the majority of viewers are so focused on counting the passes, most of them miss the dancing, moonwalking guy in a bear suit right in the middle of the screen.
Likewise, by honing in on specific goals we limit ourselves and miss valuable opportunities in our careers. We focus too much on the goal ahead and stop paying attention to other opportunities.
The reason we set long-term goals for ourselves is so we can feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth once we achieve the desired results. However, this philosophy is flawed because it relates our self-worth to results, which can be negative or positive depending on the outcome.
Tying a specific outcome to a goal is a great way to motivate yourself, but don’t get caught up in letting those results, or failures, dictate your self-worth.
So how do you find a good balance of long-term goals without hindering your career?
Be Flexible - Always be ready to adapt and change course as needed. Know that your goals aren’t set in stone and that you must be flexible as new opportunities cross your path. Keep an open mind while remembering your purpose throughout the journey.
Review Your Goals - Leave room for growth by re-evaluating your goals on a regular basis. Ask yourself if you’re still happy with the path you’re on, taking into consideration new skills and mindset changes.
Remove the Limits - Don’t underestimate your potential. Strive to try new things and push the career boundaries. Take any failures as a learning experience and move on. Look for alternate routes to accomplish your goals aside from the traditional paths.
Having long-term career goals are great, and in some cases completely necessary, but don’t forget to strike a balance between this and learning to adapt and change along the way.