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Are Your Career Goals Aligned With Your Values?

5.0.2Deciding what’s most important is the first step in creating your plan

As you develop your S.M.A.R.T. Goals make sure that you align goals with values that are most important to you. What are those values? When asked this question some people immediately say family is the most important thing in their life. Yet they spend 50 percent of their time traveling and bring work home on the weekends. And they’re surprised that they’re not happy.

On the flip-side, others say money isn’t important. But they complain that they don’t have a new car in the driveway or money for a vacation to Jamaica. Maybe they care more about money than they believe.

Several years ago, I met a fledgling photographer. She had put together a beautiful portfolio. It was so good in fact that she was invited to be part of a local art show. When she learned that I worked in the career field, she was eager to talk with me about changing careers. Her goal was to trade in her job as a pharmaceutical rep for a position as a photographer.

As I listened, I learned that her values didn’t align. She had a dream not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

She told me that she loved taking pictures. And that landing a job as a photographer was more important than anything else. I told her that she had several options changing positions, changing industries or jumping directly from one career to another.

As we talked, I explained that each position has two parts: the job itself and the field or industry. The easiest way to change careers was to do it gradually. She could pursue her photography by moving to a similar position in another industry or a new position in the same industry.

Given her stated goal, I suggested she use her contacts in the pharmaceutical industry to explore opportunities where she could use her obvious talent. Maybe she could find a marketing position in one of the larger companies. Once she had some experience the next step would be moving to another industry.

Another possibility, was finding a sales position in a field where she might be able to pursue photography in the future. A job in publishing might be an answer. Neither of these ideas was of any interest. She would be satisfied only with a complete change.

Now, jumping from one career to a completely different career would not only be the most difficult option, in most cases it also would mean making less money, at least initially. That’s when she balked. She had a house and a lifestyle she had worked hard to achieve. She insisted that she would not take a position that paid less money. We had come to an impasse.

It seemed that while working as a photographer was important, it was not her biggest priority. She was struggling with conflicting values. She wanted a new career at the same salary: A dream job or nothing. She found nothing.

Is all or nothing a problem for you? Do you long for family time and a new car in the driveway? Maybe it’s time to look for a new job where you don’t travel as often or work as much on the weekends? Maybe you can have a more flexible schedule the weeks you’re not traveling so you can spend more quality time with your family? Maybe you can do some of your meetings via the phone or Skype?

Consider your values. Brainstorm to come up with options that meet your needs. Enlist the help of others because two or three or four heads are better than one.

Once you come up with your SMART goal it’s time to create your Action Plan. A plan will help you stay focused and on track. Remember it’s easier to get to your destination when you have a roadmap.


About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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