Monthly News: January 2020

Career Goal Setting

As we enter a new decade, many of us engage in the ‘reflect and goal-set’ mentality that is traditional around the New Year. January is often a time of hope and optimism about the year ahead, with desires to leave the past year behind and step forward into a new decade with intention and drive.

However, many of us often struggle with ‘the January blues,’ feeling low and unmotivated going into 2020. The lasting financial pressures from Christmas, family gatherings that may have been tense over the festive period, increased alcohol and food intake, and difficulties in the previous year can often lead to us struggling to feel excited for a new year and craving a boost to our motivation.

Effective goal-setting for the year ahead can help provide the boost to motivation required to leave the difficulties of last year behind and forge a new direction for 2020. One major impact on many of our lives and wellbeing is our career. An average Australian spends half of their waking lives at a paying job.

Therefore, this month we are focusing on how to set create effective career goals, integrating the most up-to-date research on goal-setting and drawing on career coaching methods, to make 2020 the year for your career.

Why it's important to focus on your career

Studies show that we spend over 1/3 of our lives at work. Most of us spend a significant portion of our lives working, with the average person spending 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.

Given the time and energy we spend at work each year, it is essential to ensure that we feel fulfilled and satisfied at work. If not, job dissatisfaction, workplace conflict or feeling stagnant in your career can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-worth, and identity difficulties.

A large scale Australian survey found that 81 percent of over 3000 respondents like their job, suggesting that the majority of Australians are happy workers. However, 70% of respondents stated that they felt they lacked career progression and wanted more remuneration. This suggests that although people may like their job, there may be elements that they are not satisfied with. Making sure that we feel not only happy, but also satisfied, in work is essential for a fulfilling and meaningful career.

What makes people happy in their career?

Studies have shown that the key factors that ensure workplace happiness and satisfaction are:

  • Likeable Workplace – having a workplace that you like is the strongest predictor of job satisfaction
  • Feeling Valued – feeling that we are valued and seen as important to our companies is another strong predictor of job satisfaction
  • Having an Enjoyable Job – enjoying the role that you do is a key factor in workplace happiness
  • Work-life balance – feeling you have enough time for your other life commitments outside work
  • Manageable workload – feeling you can manage and complete your current workload
  • Workplace Training – having good training and learning opportunities at work is a crucial part of job satisfaction
  • Role Variety – having variety in your role and daily tasks is often a strong predictor of job satisfaction
  • Income – better pay can be correlated with increased job satisfaction

Why is goal-setting important?

Given the importance of our careers and the impact work can have on our mental health and wellbeing, it is vital to have a sense of what we are working towards and why in our careers.

Studies have found that effective goal-setting can:

  • Improve your levels of happiness
  • Give you a sense of purpose
  • Promote self-mastery and boost levels of autonomy
  • Boost your self confidence
  • Boost your levels of motivation and help tackle procrastination
  • Boost your workplace performance
  • Increase your levels of financial security
  • Improve mental health symptoms
  • Improve levels of subjective wellbeing

Therefore, career goals are essential to ensuring career satisfaction and advancement, giving us a sense of purpose, direction and overall happiness.

The 5-Stage Approach to Career Goal-Setting

In order to guide you to set effective career goals and be able to meet them in 2020, follow this 5-step approach that integrates the most up-to-date research on goal-setting and drawing on career coaching methods. 

Stage 1 – Establish your Values

Before setting any goals, it is vital to establish what is important to you in your career to work out what values underpin your career goals and overall direction. Values are the things you believe are important in the way that you live and work. Values represent our deepest desires; they are what we stand for, who we want to be, how we want to relate to the world, and how we want to be remembered. 
Our values are our motivating force and by taking the time to connect to these values, you are significantly more likely to achieve your goals and be able to feel fulfilled while working towards them. 
In order to establish your values, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What’s important to you about work?
  • What elements would your perfect job have?
  • What would you like your job to give you?
  • Why do you do your current work?
  • When you have retired, what values would you like to say you lived by in your career?

Examples of workplace values include: 

  • Financial stability
  • Learning
  • Helping others
  • Creating change
  • Being kind to others
  • Teamwork
  • Autonomy
  • Work/life balance
  • Holidays and free time
  • Travel
  • Creativity
  • Logic
  • Logic Problem Solving

After identifying a list of values, narrow them down to your Top 5 Values. Write these down and take them with you through to the next stage. 

Stage 2 – Reflect

Before setting goals, it is important to reflect on the last year and consider what you would like to change and what you would like to build on going forward. 
Now you have identified your core career values, ask yourself: 

  • Over the last year, how much did I live according to these work values on a scale of 0/10 (0 = not at all, 10 = completely)?
  • What went well over the last year?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What things took me further away from my values?
  • What things took me further away from my values?
  • What would I like to prioritise next year?

Take these reflections and move into the next section to start setting your career goals. 

Stage 3 – Set Short, Medium and Long-Term Goals

After reflecting on the past year and having a sense of your focus for next year, it’s time to create some goals to help you live more fully and feel more fulfilled in your career. 

Often when thinking about what we want to achieve in our career, we come up with big goals that are difficult to achieve and work towards. In order to break down big goals into more manageable and more achievable goals, it can be helpful to create short, medium and long-term goals. 

Long-term goals – the goals that you would like to work towards in the next 10+ years.

Examples of long-term goals: 

  • To reach a certain job title
  • To have and sell your own business
  • To create change in an area such as business, healthcare or mental health
  • To make enough money to retire early
  • To write a book
  • To complete a PhD

Medium-term goals – the goals that you would like to achieve in the next 2-10 years. 
Examples of medium-term goals: 

  • Have two promotions
  • Run my own project
  • Become a manager
  • Do a Master’s degree
  • Travel to five different places with work

Short-term goals – these are your immediate goals in the next year or even next week.

  • Ask my boss for a pay rise
  • Apply for a Master’s degree
  • Look for a more senior role
  • Gain a promotion
  • Complete my current project
  • Start a business

Stage 4 – Make these goals into SMART goals

Now you have established your short, medium and long-term goals, chose 3 key goals you would like to start working on and transform them into SMART goals in order to make them achievable and more likely to succeed.
SMART goals are: 

  • Specific – the goal needs to be specific enough for you to be able to clearly recognise whether you have achieved it or not
  • Measurable – you need to be able to keep track of the goal’s progress
  • Achievable – the goal needs to be attainable 
  • Realistic – must be reasonable to attain with your current resources
  • Time-measured – must be time-limited

Example of a non-SMART goal: Complete my current degree
Example of a SMART goal: Work on my degree (specific) twice a week (measurable and achievable) on Monday and Wednesdays (realistic) at 6pm to 7pm (time-measured). 
Now you have your 3 goals that you would like to work on over the next year, with a sense of where you are going in your career and why it is important to you. Begin to set these into action. 

Stage 5 – Check In

To ensure you stick to your goals throughout the year, schedule a reminder each month to check in with your values and ask yourself:

  • how much did I live according to these work values over the last month on a scale of 0/10 (0 = not at all, 10 = completely)?
  • Re-evaluate your goals, have they changed?
  • What has worked and not worked while trying to meet your goals?
  • What can you do in the next month to meet these goals?

Following this 5-stage approach to career goal setting can ensure that you are working towards a fulfilled and meaningful career in 2020.

Some final words…

Our jobs are a huge part of who we are, not only providing financial stability to enable to us to live the lives we would like to lead, but a source of fulfilment, a sense of purpose and identity alignment. Spend some time investing in your career and see what you can achieve in 2020. 


Effective Goal-Setting

Did you know that when you write down your goals they are 70% more likely to happen! Yet so many of us are guilty of not having a clear roadmap for the year ahead to motive and inspire.

Join us for a fun 3-hour session that focuses on how to set effective goals for 2020. In the session you will follow a simple framework to help set meaningful goals that stick across all key areas of your life including your career, health, finances and more. 

Also spend some time during the workshop to develop some goals for your r team. 

Duration Options: 3 hours
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If you or someone close to you needs support, contact Acacia Connection for an appointment.

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