In 2009, I had a single conversation that changed the entire course of my career – and I’ll never be able to express how grateful I am. One Tuesday afternoon, as the financial downturn was in full swing, my employer laid off 10% of the company – and I was part of that 10%. Given the economic situation, I panicked and immediately set a big goal: GET. A. NEW. JOB!
When I told my mentor that I was looking for a new job and began running through the options I was exploring, he said, “Stop looking for a job right now. You’re just looking for what you think you can get, not what you want. Until you know what you want, you’ll settle for what you can get.”
It was a profound moment for me. I hadn’t thought about what I wanted – besides a job. Too many of us do the same thing. Maybe you want to be a Vice President because that’s the next step, it’s what feels attainable. But have you thought about whether you want to be a Vice President (or whatever you’re going after)?
My mentor suggested I pause, evaluate what I really wanted, and then set a goal to get it. A scary approach, but became less so as I followed a really straightforward process outlined in What Color is Your Parachute. And it worked – before long, I was presented with a career option that intrigued and energized me. Although it was related to my past jobs, it had never been on my radar – and still would not have been had I not paused to think things through.
Suddenly, I was motivated in a way that got me to tell friends and family what I wanted and to start seeking out that opportunity. Within two weeks of figuring out what I REALLY wanted – still in the height of the great recession, I received an offer for exactly what I was passionate about – at a 33% pay raise – rather than what I initially thought I could get.
So, this year, don’t just set goals. Figure out what you really want and start enlisting those around you to help you achieve your goals.