My favourite shortcut for setting realistic career dreamsJan 14, 2024
Amongst your new year’s resolutions, I’m sure (and I hope) there’s a few goals related to your career. These might be a new job, a pay rise, a promotion, or even a full career change. Regardless of what your career dreams are for 2024, there’s one thing that will 100% stop you from achieving them: not believing them.
You see, if you call B.S. on your own career vision, your likelihood to do the tasks and actions necessary to bring that vision into reality plummets and you’ll usually find yourself sabotaging your chances for career success.
As a coach, I’m all for dreaming up inspiring and motivating and exciting and ambitious career goals. And I’m also practical enough to know that you have to think it’s actually realistic enough to achieve.
So my favourite shortcut for setting realistic career dreams is the “Achievability Test”. It’s 3 fast and easy questions you can ask yourself to know whether what you’re thinking is even possible. It comes from the I AM SMART format for goal setting which I teach my Leading Successful Change students to use to set visions for Change Management and for their own personal lives. I AM SMART stands for Inspiring & Motivating, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Risky, and Tangible.
The A for Achievable is one of the most important parts and we complete the Achievability Test with these 3 questions:
Achievability Test Question #1: Have I done it before?
If you’ve done something before, then you 100% know it’s achievable. You’ve done it before, you can do it again. And even if the context or environment or goal changes, you know that you can still achieve that goal again.
A great example of this is my long history of pay rises every time I changed careers. Because it had happened in the past, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it could happen in the future.
- I got a 25% pay rise when I moved from Hospitality to Advertising.
- I got a 57% pay rise when I moved from Advertising to Marketing.
- I got an 18% pay rise when I moved from Marketing to Change Management.
- I gave myself a 185% pay rise when I became a certified coach.
- And a 300% pay rise when I started my own consultancy.
I know that pay rises of every size and scale are possible, because I’ve secured them before. So if I was setting a career goal for a pay rise, I know that it’s achievable.
Another great example is changing careers. As you can see, I’ve changed careers 5 times by the age of 35 today. If I wanted to change careers again in the future, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’d be able to.
Achievability Test Question #2: Has someone else done it before?
Now sometimes, you haven’t ever achieved the goal or result that you’re pitching for. So you might think that it’s impossible. But that’s not true. If you ask yourself the second question: “Has someone else done it before?” then you know it’s possible. As long as you can find one other person who has done it before, you know that you could achieve that career dream too.
This has been a big factor in my career success. When I’ve heard of other women being paid high salaries or making fantastic career leaps, it’s inspired me to know it’s possible for myself, too. When I was in my mid-20s and earning less than $100,000, a colleague a few years older than me said she earned $120,000 in her early 20s. I was blown away!! I didn’t even know that was possible. And while yes a pang of jealousy shot through me for two seconds (I am human, after all!), it was quickly replaced by a newfound drive to earn a higher salary, too. It set a new benchmark for what I believed was possible and it’s the reason I share my own salary increases and earnings so openly.
I tell people how I tripled my salary in the space of 3 years to almost $200,000 because if I can do it, you totally can too. And it’s not just me - I’ve had Leading Successful Change students double their salaries in one move and I love sharing these absolutely incredible success stories because it shows that I’m not just a one-off fluke: anyone can have these incredible increases.
Achievability Test Question #3: Do all the elements exist for it to be possible?
Now if you’ve never done it before and you don’t know anyone who’s ever done it before, then you’ll need to use the 3rd Achievability Test Question: “Do all the elements exist for it to be possible?” The example that I love to share is Martine Rothblatt - the woman who invented Sirius XM, the first satellite radio. Satellites existed and radio existed but there was no broadcaster over the US that could cover the entire United States, so Martine put those two things together and started the first satellite radio - Sirius XM. She’s a fascinating and inspiring example of what’s possible when you can see the elements to combine for something to be achievable. And this is important, with the Future of Work, the Future of Change, and the rise of AI: there will be more and more instances where we don’t have existing examples of success but if the elements are there, success is possible.
If your rational, logical mind thinks a dream is too bold, too ambitious, too crazy... it’s going to tap out. We want to make sure it’s achievable and realistic and using these 3 simple questions can help us inspire and motivate and stretch ourselves without losing motivation by balancing the inspirational with the realistic.
I’ll be running my free Underpaid and Overlooked Workshop from Tuesday 6 February where I’ll be talking more about how you can easily set and achieve your career dreams for 2024.
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