A goal without a plan is a wish. Is this common sentiment true? Is it impossible for us to achieve a goal that we never planned for?
The ability to set goals equates to an ability to possess control of the outcomes of your situation.
If you are in a job and think to yourself “I hate this job and would be more than willing to accept an offer from another company” but don’t do anything to get an offer from another company, how do you really expect to get another job? Your complaint falls on deaf ears. I have interviewed roughly 100 recent graduates in the past year that are seeking new jobs and about half of them aren’t doing anything to actually “seek” a job. In fact, the closest they got to “seeking” a job was telling me in that interview that they were probably seeking for a new job. I then follow up to ask them “how long have you felt this way?” and the response is typically at least a month to sometimes at least a year.
Why? Your career is typically one of the most prominent sources of professional aspirations. Why are young professionals so complacent in being unsatisfied? Rather, once they realize they are unsatisfied, why is there not a process of setting and achieving goals to get out of that unsatisfaction?
Actually seeking a new career is hard, takes time, and typically isn’t fun. The irony of getting out of a bad job situation is that you have to work even harder outside of that job to find a new one. The issue is that most people enable themselves to not work as hard outside of their job because of the stress they receive from their job. Then, through some random job opportunity (a friend mentioning it, a random email, etc.), you jump on it like it’s the gold rush without thinking “is this job in fact better than my old job?”
Part of goal setting, especially in a professional environment, requires self-awareness. Working to better understand yourself should be the first plan to achieving any professional goal. Taking the time to write down what you like and don’t like (in this example, in your job) is vital to understanding what your next move will be. This takes time and may even require the help of your peers, close friends, and family to inform you of what you like to do and what your strengths are. This is because sometimes you are so deep into what you are doing (and what you think you should be doing) that you can’t see the forest from the trees. From there you can analyze what jobs you think you might like and then reach out to people actually doing those jobs (LinkedIn is great for this) to get better insight on what the job is like. When reaching out to those people, don’t ask whether or not they like the job because that depends on their personality and work style and how that meshes with their work opportunities. Their work style is completely different from yours so their feelings about the job should be irrelevant to you. Questions like “is the work autonomous or structured?” are better because they are not as subjective.
This is just an example of setting a plan to achieving a goal, but the point is that it pays off to plan and not let things come at you as random happenstance.