By Tim Hopkins
It’s that time of year again! I’m talking about when people start to break New Year’s resolutions. Some of the most common resolutions are exercising more, losing weight, stop smoking and advancing in your career. All these are great ways to improve your quality of life, so why is it so difficult to achieve them? Forbes magazine states that only 8% of people will meet their New Year’s Resolution. So, let’s be honest, it’s easy to slip early on.
If your goal is to advance your career, my hope is this article will help you along the way. While there may not be a magic formula that works for everyone, here are 11 things I encourage you to do when planning to advance your career.
Set the End Goal. With any goal-setting objective, the best way to get started is to simply write down what you are trying to achieve. Determine what your end goal is and write it down!
Research & Evaluate. Don’t just say, “I want to be a manager” and expect it to happen overnight. There are steps you need to take to be qualified for management. So, what are those steps? Do you need to continue your education or achieve additional certifications? This evaluation process is probably the most important piece to making it happen. Take the time to research and build a path.
Measurable Path. It is important to have attainable and measurable objectives along your path. Ideally, this is so you are building up experiences and the credentials you need along the way, but doing this also allows you to have victories along the way to your end goal. For example, it would be challenging for most of us to wake up one day and simply complete an MBA. Take the smaller but equally important steps first. For instance, look at attaining your CBET or HTM certification. Make them measurable and manageable pieces. Nothing can derail us faster than feeling defeated, so create a path that allows you to see progress and celebrate along the way.
What’s the Plan? Develop a plan to reach each of your measured objectives that includes a timeline. For example: Set a schedule of studying every Tuesday and Saturday for two hours to attain a certification on a specific date.
Add Benchmarks. Provide benchmarks to your plan to check-in with yourself and make sure you are achieving your objectives. Read your goals on a monthly basis to see where you are. At each of these benchmark periods, evaluate honestly how things are going and if adjustments need to be made. Remember this is your plan and it needs to fit with your life.
Remind Yourself of the Goal. Keep a copy of your goal in your wallet/purse or on the refrigerator as a reminder. Visualize yourself achieving your goals. Much like writing your goals down, visualization is a great way to “see” your goal. It helps promote positive thinking and will help you stay on track and hit your benchmarks. Professional athletes such as Tiger Woods, Micheal Phelps, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan have utilized visualization as one of their many training tools.
Engage Professional Support. Communicate your long-term goals to your manager. You might be surprised by their willingness to help. Obviously, the way you convey your desire to achieve more needs to be tempered. The HTM profession is getting older and looking at a wave of retirements in the near future. Many organizations are developing exit strategies for leadership who are approaching retirement. Utilize performance appraisals as a benchmark and a way to improve your performance at work.
Professional Network. In any profession, it is always great to network with professionals within the industry. The sharing of ideas and information is vital for the growth of the industry, but even more importantly – for you. Updating your LinkedIn profile and taking time to connect with others takes a few minutes, and should be incorporated into your plan. Networking will build on existing relationships and often open doors to new ones that may be beneficial in the future. Attending local biomed meetings is a great way to get in front of contemporaries in the community. Who knows where the conversation might go! This is also an opportune time to let people know you are continuing, or have completed, your educational goals. If you have the resources, try attending AMMI and MD Expo conferences. Take these opportunities to learn more about the industry and leverage the connections in a way that will help you reach your goal. Give a presentation or sit in on a panel where you can share your knowledge. You will gain new insights, add more connections to your network and build your industry profile.
Share Accountability. Discuss your goals with family and friends. You will not only get the moral support needed, but you may inspire them as well. Individual goals do not need to be the same to help support each other and hold each other accountable. Someone in your circle may want to lose weight. Help them develop their plan with similar steps. Set up a weekly call to keep each other accountable, share your victories as well as struggles.
Learn from the Bumps in the Road. It can be challenging. Focus on the success of each step along the way, not the failures. One of my favorite quotes: Failures are part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn you’ll never change.
Celebrate! Give yourself a reward for completing each objective. It does not have to be anything elaborate; something as simple as a walk in the park is great. Just mark the occasion and keep pushing forward.
Most things in life do not come easy, including reaching career goals. Working hard for something makes the reward that much sweeter. Just starting your journey can get the wheels in motion to becoming a better person, employee and spouse. You can do it!
Tim Hopkins is executive recruiter and vice president of operations at Stephens International Recruiting Inc.
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