You Don’t Need More New Goals

Written by | @stickybranding

2019 Loading
Ideas are sticky. Share them!

January 1 is the most visited day of the year for job boards and job websites. It seems like half the population is exploring new job opportunities.

When I ran my recruiting agency we found that the #1 reason why people changed jobs is due to symptoms:

  • I hate my boss
  • I hate my commute
  • I don’t get paid enough
  • Or some other issue

The implied reason for looking for a new job was, “If I get [insert need or desire], I’ll be happy.”

It rarely turned out that way. Sure there would be the honeymoon period for a few weeks or a few months, but inevitably that lingering dissatisfaction would reemerge. It was the proverbial “same poop, different pile” situation.

Every now and then we’d encounter a very different kind of job seeker. These people had a plan. They weren’t changing jobs due to symptoms. They were looking for specific opportunities that would help them achieve their objectives.

For instance, CPAs must acquire “a minimum term of 30 months of relevant and progressive experience” to achieve the designation. This means young people pursuing their accounting designation are readily applying to all the big CPA firms so they can get their hours. Who they work for matters, but not really. The job is a means to an end.

Using a company to achieve a goal may seem dirty or unseemly, but it’s a strategy employed by some of the most successful people.

Let me illustrate the point with an exercise. Dust off your resume and get it up to date, and then look three years into the future. Add to your resume the job you want to be doing. Put in the title, responsibilities, and maybe even a couple accomplishments. Get really clear on what job you want to do three years from now.

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you can do the exercise too. How do you want your role in the business to evolve? What do you want to be doing three years from now?

When you’re clear on what you want to become, your career strategy is straightforward. All you have to do is answer one question, “What skills, experiences, and abilities do I need to acquire over the next three years to do that job?”

A simple shift in focus can change the trajectory of your career and your next steps. It may require staying in your current job and getting more experience, or it may require a transition. Either way, you’ve got a plan.

The start of the year is a time of rejuvenation and refocusing. It’s time to consider what you want and what you want to become. That’s why New Year’s Resolutions are so popular. “This year will be different.”

Really? The data says otherwise. According to research, 88% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. Even though they set their resolutions with the best of intentions, they do not attain them.

What’s really going on here? A big part of the problem is goal setting based on symptoms:

  • I hate my boss
  • I hate my commute
  • I don’t get paid enough
  • Or some other issue

Resolutions are written to solve a perceived pain, but nothing happens.

The answer is not to create more goals or try to solve all your nagging problems. This year the answer is fewer goals that are clearly focused on where you want to go.

There’s a story that flies around the internet on the goal setting advice that Warren Buffett gave to his pilot, Mike Flint. One day Buffett approached the cockpit before takeoff and said, “The fact that you’re still working for me, tells me I’m not doing my job. You should be out, going after more of your goals and dreams.”

If anyone other than Warren Buffett said that to you, you’d call him a dick. But Warren Buffett is a multi-billionaire, so you ask for his advice.

Buffett presented a three-step process for picking your goals:

  1. Write down a list of 25 career goals.
  2. Circle the 5 highest priority goals.
  3. Focus on your top 5 goals, and say “no” to the rest.

As Buffett explained to Flint, “Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘avoid at all cost list.’ No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top five.”

Picking your priorities changes behaviors, and largely makes New Year’s Resolutions irrelevant. If you’re working on a defined path you know what you need to do and not do. This gives you clarity and purpose.

As we kick into a New Year, refocus and recommit to your top goals, because they’re going to be with you for a few more years. What skills, experiences, and abilities do you need to acquire this year to get you closer to achieving your goals? These are your priorities. You can even call them New Year’s Resolutions if it helps.

Success isn’t driven by symptoms, it’s driven by purposeful goals. What do you need to accomplish this year?