The only thing worse than not reaching your goal, is reaching it.
The most common bad career goal
As a recruiter I talk to some people who are miserable that they reached their career goals. Of course I also talk to those who have reached their goals and are loving it, so they set new ones. What’s the difference? Setting the right goals. What is the most common career goal? I do/do not want to be a manager.
It is a terrible thing to climb the ladder of success, and find out it is leaning against the wrong wall.
I want to be a manager
This is the biggest misery making goal I see. As a programmer, accountant, salesperson, or engineer you get to regularly do something concrete. You can see what you did. It is obvious. Managers often work a whole week resolving problems and dealing with emotional issues. At the end of the week, they often cannot point to a single thing they really accomplished. When someone quits, it is their fault and their responsibility to fix the problem. Then someone else quits. They also feel isolated from their coworkers. Managers have to discipline, give raises, and fire people. It gets lonely at the top.
It can also be the perfect job. Some people thrive as managers. If you want to be a manager find out if you will like it. Lead some projects. Lead a team. Reflect on what it will really be like if you no longer “get your hands dirty”. Ever.
I want out of management
It’s funny that this too is a common bad career goal. Be honest, do you really want to get back to the daily production grind, or is your current position the problem. Sometimes you have to change what you are doing, change your boss, or change your company. If you loved management in the past and did well, but you are no longer allowed to succeed, getting back to a production job isn’t the solution. Figure out what else must change, and change that.
Being a manager can be great if it fits your personality and you are in the right place. Before you get out of management, make sure you should be out. You can volunteer for a project leader job where you go back to work in the trenches for a while. Get your hands dirty in a temporary assignment to see if that is what you really should be doing.
Be careful that you set goals you will be happy with. See if you can try out that promotion or production job before you take it full time.
Something To Do Today
Figure out when you can spend some time with your goals every day. Just sitting with a pen and paper for 15 minutes each day can change your life if you are thinking about where you want to go. Figure out how to try out your goals.
Have a great New Year.