If you are expecting to read about climbing up the corporate ladder, making more money or becoming the next ‘big thing’, then you are at the wrong place. This blog will not be about expected or typical career goals.
In 2017, I learnt to stop defining my achievements and my personal worth, based on my role and my salary. If you know me personally, then you will also know that I recently chose to leave my role at a successful multi-national company, a company that I thought I would work at for many more years, because I chose to put myself first. I have been on a one month break to look after myself, to clear my mind and to organise my life. Next week, I will begin fresh in a new company, in a new role, with new people, in a new environment. A fresh start to 2018 with some clear career goals.
I started my first corporate career at the naive age of 20. I say ‘naive’, as this is one of the first things that I was referred to during the interview process. ‘Naive’ meaning a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement.I very quickly learnt how true that statement was. My first role, which I remained in for two and a half years, taught me many things. I learnt that there will always be conflict in a corporate environment, that you are expected to work hard and deliver valuable information and that you need to go above and beyond expectations to succeed.
I also learnt that you can make long-term friendships in the office and that you can find genuine co-workers that care about you and what happens in your life outside of work. I learnt that hard work does pay off and that you can succeed if you are determined to do so.
Above all, I learnt what it means to value yourself, your morals and to set standards in place very quickly.
Five years on and I am moving into my third company, exactly 10 457 km away from where I started my first job. I have come far in distance but also far in experience, wisdom and judgement – no longer naive to the world of business yet still so much to learn.
Some of the most popular interview questions – “Where do you want to be in 5 years?”… “What are your career goals?”… “What are your long-term aspirations?”… We often tend to ramble on about management positions, financial growth, leadership and success, but we often neglect the important things like creating a sustainable living environment, being a mentor, enhancing the corporate culture or having a healthy work-life balance. We don’t mention the latter as it’s not what we believe the interviewer wants to hear. If you do mention these things, then well done because I am sure you are one of the very few!
In order to succeed in your career, it is important that you put yourself first and that you set standards. Over the years, I have learnt to set some very clear work boundaries and standards.
A few examples of standards that you could set in place to benefit yourself, as well as those around you:
No-one wants to be referred to as a clock watcher but no-one likes to work with someone that has a lack of time management either. Arrive at your meetings on time, stick to agendas, leave your meetings on time, arrive at work early, leave work on time, don’t work overtime unless it’s urgent (or take unnecessary calls/emails after hours), deliver work before final deadlines and always plan ahead.
Did you know that you should be moving your body every 20 minutes? Not only do breaks benefit the mind but also, your body, your posture and your eyes. Taking a quick 2-minute break is all you need to refresh yourself and ultimately, to benefit your mind and body in the long-term. I used to eat my lunch at my computer but over the last few months, I took a 30-minute break away from everything to relax and eat my food. I suffer from severe migraines and I often find that they occur more on days that I haven’t take a break from the computer. Taking these breaks has really improved my overall health and mood.
Communication is key. Ask for feedback, give feedback to others, be clear on your expectations, get up and speak to your colleagues, send emails as confirmations, make that call you have been putting off, say what you think and give your opinions. I have been affected by a lack of communication, both from others and as a result of a lack of communication from myself. Just remember that no-one knows what you are feeling or thinking unless you say so. To make it a habit, set up recurring meetings or coffee catch-ups with your key stakeholders and remember to give a clear agenda, arrive on time and finish on time!
My 2018 Career Goals
- Learn the difference between important and urgent.
- Stress less.
- Drive my own development.
- Find a mentor.
- Create tools to save time and effort.
- Work to live, not live to work.
- Email less, speak more.
- Get more feedback.
- Cancel unnecessary meetings.
- Work agile.
- Prep lunches before work.
- Stand more.
- Learn to say No.
- Ask for help.
- Understand others better.
- Celebrate successes.
- Focus on my passions.
- Stay curious.
If you want to know more about creating a healthier work-life balance, then check out 10 ways to Create a Happy & Healthy Work-life Balance.
Wishing you all the best in your career for 2018! I hope that this has inspired and motivated you to make some positive changes in the workplace and in your career goals. Please share any feedback or personal goals that you have for 2018!