"career goals"

Tue 21 January 2020
Participating in mentor relationships is extremely valuable and can open up opportunities for both professional and personal growth. 

But what happens when we don’t do the things we said we would do in our previous meeting or the person we are mentoring doesn’t accomplish what he said he would do the previous meeting?

You are faced with a crossroads. If you didn’t accomplish your goal, were you too ambitious with how you would spend your time or did you drop the ball? Can you be honest with yourself to recognize where you messed up?

If the person you are mentoring didn’t accomplish his goals, why did this happen? Do you feel comfortable with applying enough pressure to show that you care but not so much that you turn the person you are mentoring off? 

This article covers some helpful tips towards building a mentor relationship that is healthy and productive.

Set expectations upfront

When setting goals in a mentoring relationship, it is extremely important that you both set expectations. If you don’t put on guardrails for tasks not getting accomplished, the relationship has a high likelihood of fizzling out because if there isn’t accountability for the goals set in the relationship, there likely isn’t much accountability for the relationship overall.

It is great to set goals that are months or years away but the problem with this is that it is difficult to assess of you or the person you are mentoring is on the right track. Ideally, once you set a longer term goal, you set goals for you to accomplish between meetings that create a path towards your end goal. 

If you don’t accomplish these tasks between your mentor meetings, it is important for you to assess what is realistic and what might be too ambitious.

Challenge with questions not statements

If your mentor or the person you are mentoring doesn’t achieve his goals, it might be tempting to be frustrated. In a mentor relationship, you are investing your energy in seeing this person succeed. If they can’t accomplish the tasks they set for themselves, it can feel depleting or frustrating.

The key to properly challenging the person you are mentoring to ask poignant questions that help them come up with solutions. Saying things like “you need to do this...” or “I can’t believe you didn’t get that done…” doesn’t help you and may turn the person you are mentoring away. 

Asking questions like “since you weren’t able to accomplish this, is there something you can do this week/month to help you get back on track?” or “do you feel like you can still accomplish your goal even though you missed your task this week?” or “if you aren’t able to achieve your goal, what will be the outcome of that?” 

Once the person you are mentoring has answered these types of questions, the number one most important question to ask is:

How can I help you?

This shows empathy and your accountability to them achieving this goal.

Reevaluate the goal for changes

You or the person you are mentoring may determine that the goal set initially is not as important as it once was and that there is a new goal that has taken precedence.

This is completely fine and normal!

The key to properly handling this situation is sharing this information with your mentor. They will support you in this transition because they care about you accomplishing your goals, not that the original goal gets accomplished.

You aren’t letting your mentor down by changing your goal but you are letting your mentor down if you don’t share this new goal with him.

As a mentor, you can ask the question “is this still the most important goal on your plate?” or put another way “what is your biggest concern with the work you are doing right now?” Sometimes it is easier to answer questions about concerns than goals and prioritize them because people are more willing to do things to avoid pain than gain pleasure.

Overall, when it comes to mentor relationships and holding people accountable, it is key to be transparent, create protocols for not accomplishing tasks on the way to a goal, and be empathetic.

If you are interested in learning more about research on mentor relationships for companies, check out https://ambition-in-motion.com/companies.

Fri 15 November 2019
Having a successful mentor/mentee relationship is not easy. There are many factors that play into the relationship between somebody willing to learn and somebody willing to teach.


For career mentorship, one of the most important factors is how both the mentor and mentee view their respective careers.


Typically, there are three ways that people view their vocations. To some, they consider their vocation a job to make money and go home. To others, they think of their vocation as a career where they can grow and develop while still having opportunities outside of work for their personal interests. To the rest, they consider their vocation a calling where they believe that the work they are doing is their life’s work.


The orientation one has about their work is not right or wrong. Furthermore, the same person can have different orientations around different work. For example, if you are working at a company that rotates you from project to project every period, you may find one project career work, another project a job, and another project your calling.


The orientation one has about their vocation is extremely important for mentorship. If a student aspires to pursue a career in marketing and thinks of it as his calling, it would make no sense to connect that student with a marketing professional that considers it her job.


It would leave the mentor thinking that the student has unrealistic expectations for a career in marketing and the mentee feeling jaded and potentially consider changing his career path.


This is just one of many factors that play into pairing the right mentor with the right mentee. If a student is left to their own devices when choosing a mentor, and the only information the student has are mentor names and titles, then their results from this mentor experience are completely random.


The goal of every mentor/mentee experience is to make sure that both the mentee and mentor are left satisfied. Mentors want to feel like what they are saying is being heard and valued by the mentee while mentees want to feel as if what they are learning is relevant to what they can achieve in their career.


Ultimately, if the factors that go into satisfying a mentor and a mentee are fulfilled, a successful mentorship relationship can bring incredible satisfaction to both parties involved and develop into a lifelong bond.

Wed 6 January 2021
Let's talk about Impossible Goals - or as a colleague of mine calls them BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals). These are goals that seem completely ridiculous today but speak directly to what you want in your core being. 
 
It most likely is impossible today. But I learned that "Impossible" is temporary. We have been told that your goals need to not be "Impossible." Not exactly worded that way, but that was the intent. Many times, you hear “Make the goal realistic” or “Attainable.” And I agree with that, to an extent. I have found that often what a person thinks is realistic to them, is far less than they could actually achieve. So, setting a goal that is impossible today, doesn't mean to it won't be possible tomorrow. Every little step you take opens doors and opportunities that didn't exist before. 
 
However, the goal cannot be arbitrary. For example, if my BHAG is something like “I want to be worth $10 million dollars.” by itself is not good enough. I need to be emotionally connected to the impossible to achieve it. In other words, WHY do I want to be worth $10 million dollars? Why $10 million? Are the reasons materialistic? Philanthropic? The motivations behind the goal are just as important as the goal itself. Otherwise, when the inevitable setbacks that happen along the way, I would be more likely to give up.
 
If you have an impossible BHAG – ask yourself WHY do I want to achieve this goal, then map out the steps needed to achieve it, and take the first step, then the next. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make the impossible, possible.
Wed 3 March 2021
In my executive peer mentoring, the latest area we’ve addressed is looking at a major goal in our lives – first, one where we failed to reach the goal; second, where we did. 

In both cases, what were obstacles we faced that hindered, derailed, or threatened to keep us from reaching the goal? A great exercise, thanks to the Ambition in Motion team.
 
Without sharing either story at length (which might interest you, or bore you to tears), two things, in particular, stood out to me:

When is a goal, not a goal?

What are critical success factors, to overcoming obstacles in your path toward the goal?

To flesh this out -

When a goal isn’t really a goal


In the goal where I failed, I realized that I saw it evolve. First, I had the sense that I wanted to do something – that is, write a new book. I had that as a goal in my head, for the better part of a year. Then, I moved the goal into writing – I had set the goal for a specific year, to “write a new book”. I even had a couple of strategies I’d seen presented and used, and thought about the various steps: develop vision and abstract, outline, key themes, and write the introduction. 
 
But it remained unfulfilled because I went month after month without being more specific and intentional. What were the obstacles?

Life: Workload, personal commitments, family, volunteer activity
Me:  It became apparent that this just wasn’t a priority for me.

So, a goal is not a goal when I don’t get underneath it, behind it, and intentional about it, and devote time and energy toward it.
 
Sounds simple – as so many things in life are!

Critical success factors to overcoming obstacles


In both examples where I failed, and when I succeeded in reaching the goal – I reflected on obstacles that were in the way. To get us to a goal that is really a goal, we need to:

Make it a SMART goal (you’ve almost certainly heard this, but it’s no less true):
  • Specific - concise
  • Measurable – will know when it’s complete
  • Achievable – something I can control, vs. solving world hunger
  • Realistic – something I am equipped for
  • Time-based – target date, deadline, milestones.

Make it a priority


I tend to be goal and list-focused. If it’s on a list, it gets done. If it’s on a list as an “A” priority, it really will get done (Bs get moved out and done later, sometimes when they upgrade to As. Cs tend to get pushed out and done much later if ever). So, what do I relegate to the B or C list, to make room for the A goal?

Allocate time to it


Plan time in blocks, or chunks, devoted to it. Push off other attempts to encroach on the time that’s been allocated for working on it.

Keep your motivation for it


We build and maintain momentum, from the motivation that comes from within us. Without that, the other steps I’ve outlined, simply won’t happen. My mentor also observed that we can build the motivation for developing a new habit, by “doing” the habit! Practice yields behavior.

So if you’re a bit stymied in getting to something you’ve set for yourself as a goal – consider the above. Is it really a goal for you? Or an idea that you heard or had, or an “external” goal that someone else has for you? If it’s real, reframe it as a SMART goal, and examine your priorities and time.
 
Happy “goal-tending”…


Building Mentor Connections Through Work Orientation

Kickstarting Mentorships For Fulfilling Careers