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The Next Step in Your Intentional Career: Creating a Few Simple Values-Based Goals

Welcome to the latest installment of my series on creating an intentional career!

On to the good stuff – values-based goal setting. AKA, bringing our dreams, our vision, our values, into the physical world! Woo!

Up until this point, you’ve definitely done a lot. But mostly, it’s been a lot of digging, reflecting and uncovering internally. You’ve defined your core values. You’ve understood your core feelings and how you might want to better spend your time. You have an idea of a future vision you hold lightly in your hand and your hearts, perhaps a very precious vision about your dream career.

So now, it’s time to start connecting the interior world and dreaming work we’ve done with the “real” world. Let’s start career-building by taking inspired, aligned action, and setting a few career goals that we can start aiming for.

Now, goal setting is definitely part of an intentional career, but only if it’s done, that’s right, intentionally. Mindfully. With self-knowledge in mind. Right? Otherwise, we throw out goals that we think we “should” achieve, according to somebody else’s desires or expectations; then, when we accomplish them, we may feel empty on the inside, because they weren’t the goals we would have picked for ourselves, but we didn’t know what else to do.

Well, this week, given the wealth of information and self-knowledge you now have at your hands, you have an idea of what goals may light you up, and we’re going to create a plan to get you there to your true intentional career.

First, simply gather your notes and materials from the past several weeks of assignments. Spend some time re-reading and reviewing these materials and letting them sink in all together.

In particular, reread your career vision map. Then look at your core career values list. Is there anything in both that jumps out as super matched up?

What I mean by this is: For me, in my vision map, I have written a book, and live in a place closer to nature with a plant-filled patio. One of my values is “success,” and one is “beauty,” specifically as related to nature, and I see a published book as related to success and of course, nature and plants related to beauty.

So what I want you to do here is write two columns. One is your five values. The second column is any items, lines and descriptions in your vision map that you can correlate directly to your values.

Draw arrows between the two to connect a core value to a vision map outcome.

This is just an exercise. We’re not going to necessarily do anything with this information, but I simply wanted to reinforce the connection between values and vision, and to have you spend a bit of extra time reflecting on that.

Next: Goal planning. Specifically, values-based goal planning.

What I want you to do is create five goals that relate to each of your five values. And I want you to do it in a specific way.

  • I want these goals to be small, and achievable within three to six months. Nowhere do we hamstring ourselves more than with huge goals that overwhelm us so we give up easily on them. The essence of building an intentional career is self-trust: building that trust by working to achieve small but important goals along the way, which eventually add up to the bigger goals. No, “I’m going to get a job in Australia!” in these goals – yet. For now, let’s keep it something you could totally feasibly finish and accomplish in three to six months. Maybe you can get a job in Australia in six months, but if it’s feeling like that’s a bit out of your reach, don’t include it on the list.
  • I want their outcomes to be observable. For example, setting a goal of “network more,” is tough. What does that look like? How would you know you are happier? It’s easier to say, “Set up three networking Zoom meetings a month” because you’ll know if that happened or not.

I also want you to be able to answer a few questions for each goal:

  • How does this goal connect to my career vision statement?
  • How does this goal connect to a particular value?
  • How will I know I’ve achieved this goal? (Again, if your goal is super clear this will answer itself, but still worth doing)

Some examples of possible career goals you could be setting, depending on your vision, your core values and all the other things you’ve learned about yourself in the past few weeks:

  • Hire a career coach
  • Re-write your cover letter
  • Set up three Zoom networking meetings a month
  • Clean out your office space
  • Take a public speaking course
  • Apply to five new jobs a month
  • Ask for a raise
  • Take a negotiating skills course
  • Or anything else you can think of

Goals can be related to salary; skills; education; networking; your personal brand; connecting with mentors; and lots more.

Next week, once you have your goals set, we’ll discuss how you can intentionally execute on them and make them happen.

Catherine Andrews is an author, teacher, coach and expert in intentional living who works with clients to mindfully and authentically design a life that reflects all of their potential, dreams, desires and capabilities. She is the author and host of The Sunday Soother, a newsletterpodcast and community dedicated to authentic living and compassionate personal growth. She lives in Washington, D.C., and holds a bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University. Before becoming a teacher and coach, she spent nearly 20 years in communications and journalism, and she still believes the stories we tell about ourselves and others are our greatest assets. You can find her on Instagram here.

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