Why You Didn’t Hit Your Career Goals In 2016 (And How To Nail Them in 2017)
The end of the working year provides an opportunity for valuable reflection. What went well this year in your career? What didn’t go to plan? When you set out your career goals at the beginning of 2016, where did you think you’d be when 2017 rolled around?
It’s been an interesting year in construction, and sometimes reaching our goals isn’t entirely under our own control. Projects change, the market loses confidence, or your company is bought out — there are so many variables that can sabotage our career plans.
However, it’s often not the external forces that interfere with our career aspirations, but instead some common, easily avoided mistakes in career goal planning that hinder your process—and even scupper your chances of success before you even start.
Common mistakes in career goal planning (and how to fix them)
1. You didn’t break your big goals down into short term goals. Humans, for the most part, are short-term creatures when it comes to motivation, so breaking up big goals into small projects and adding regular rewards for hitting milestones is an excellent way to gain momentum with frequent successes.
Quick fix: Use the 90 day goal strategy instead. Set high but achievable goals you want to reach in 90 days, then chase like crazy. Work towards those goals every single day to keep momentum going- even if it’s just sending an email related to it.
2. You didn’t request honest feedback. You were banking on a promotion this year, but you may have missed the crucial step of scheduling a meeting with your manager to a) alert them that you were keen for promotion and b) ask them for a genuine performance appraisal to show you what you might need to do to deserve that promotion.
Quick fix: Request a performance review before the year is up so that you can find out the areas you need to up-skill or improve in 2017, and discuss your career goals. You may even be allocated some great training out of this conversation, but at the very least you’ll have a roadmap to success and a better idea if your goals are achievable within your current skill set.
3. You forgot to bounce your career goals off others. Many of us overlook the step of sharing our career goals with anyone (managers, friends, HR advisor, or colleagues) to find out if they’re realistic in the first place.
Quick fix: Share your goals with people whose opinions you value. It can be hard to hear objections to your dream of becoming a project manager within 12 months, but sometimes we need realistic guidance to force us to amend our career goals to something we can attain in the short-term…so that we can actually reach the long-term goal in future.
4. You only planned for the best-case scenario. It’s tempting, isn’t it, to envisage only a future where everything goes your way and no external factors interfere with your goals. Yet as nice as that daydream it might be, it’s also not very realistic. Managers may change, companies are restructured, your promotion is recruited externally, construction projects are lost, the market suffers a downturn, there’s a wave of retrenchments, or the training budget is cut. There are so many variables that can impact on our career trajectory, which is why it’s important to come up with alternate routes to success.
Quick Fix: When goal planning, give serious thought to alternate routes to success if the first one doesn’t work out. We recommend a plan A, B, C, and possibly even a D! Even if everything does go your way, the mere act of planning for obstacles gives you a feeling of confidence and control when embarking on your goal chase.
5. You didn’t build your skills in any appreciable way. It’s hard to get noticed or marked out for the promotion path if you’re just doing the job the way you always have- even if your work standard is very high.
Quick fix: Hopefully your workplace has a training scheme you could take advantage of, but there are also many online courses, seminars and forums you could participate in to build your knowledge and skills to get noticed as someone on the rise. Construction is facing a skills shortage in some areas, so be strategic about which skills will be in high-demand.
6. You didn’t have enough confidence. It’s so easy to feel deflated about all the things that went wrong in 2016, but you should actually be focussing on all the things you did right! Whether you’re job-hunting, requesting training, or seeking a promotion, you need to be focussing on your successes so that your enthusiasm and positivity impresses others and builds their confidence in your ability.
Quick fix: Write down and keep a running log of all the notable successes you’ve had. Make it as specific and as results-focussed as possible. This strategy not only boosts your own confidence, but it also means you’ll be ready in your next interview/performance review/promotion discussion to state your case in a powerful and confident way.
7. You didn’t write your goals down. The mere act of writing your goals down improves your chance of success—and the more detail, the better.
Quick Fix: Write all goals down, breaking them down into their smallest parts and scheduling milestones. You may want to use one of the clever goal-setting apps that gamifies your goal chase and helps keep you motivated.
The process of meticulously planning and chasing your goals can be one of the most transformative things you can do in your career. Take everything you’ve learnt from 2016 and make it work for you in 2017.