Do you aspire to me a CMO someday? Start your own business? Teach? Write? Speak? Work overseas? Switch industries? Whatever your career aspirations, I can guarantee you one thing: You will increase your odds of achieving them exponentially if you create an Action Plan with SMART goals. Remember SMART goals?
And I'd add one more S for Support. What help do you need to reach your goals?
If you don't know where you want to go, then job #1 is to figure that out. Once you have your compass set to true north, you can plot your path forward. There are tons of books and blogs on goal setting, finding your strengths and so forth but the cold, hard truth is that if it's important to you, you have to take action to go and get it. Get clear. Get focused. And then get going! If you need a career coach or accountability partner, get one. If you need more training or experience, seek it out.
The New Year is right around the corner but don't wait for January 1st to get started. Start now. Set aside the time; put it on your calendar. Open a fresh Word document or log into Evernote. Write down your dreams. Be aspirational. Then break down your dreams into goals, your goals into actions, and your actions into baby steps that you can schedule each quarter, month, week or day. Few journeys are taken by leaps and bounds but rather one step at a time.
Take note of how you feel about your dreams, how important they are to you. Too often we set goals that don't really matter, and then beat ourselves up when we don't achieve them. And remember that dreams change over time. When I was a young marketer I set a goal for my career, put it on the shelf, and left it there to get dusty. When I finally made time to re-evaluate my aspirations, I realized that my priorities, interests and passions had shifted. What I once thought was my dream job no longer interested me. And that insight sparked a whole new journey that continues to evolve to this very day.
Where do you want to go? The better question may be, what are you waiting for?