@clarity* via flickr
In the city where I live there is an extensive subway (not like a New York City subway; more like an underground walkway) and skyway system to help us navigate from building to building downtown. A very nice perk when the temperatures are below zero and the snow is piled high.
When I first started working downtown, the skyway and subway were intimidating. It was easy to get disoriented and become lost. You’d find yourself sheepishly sidling up to a map to try and find your way back to your destination. Now, however, I can navigate them like a pro, and I find myself frequently helping those who are unfamiliar find their away around themselves.
I don’t remember when the switch flipped and I went from “not knowing where I was going” to “knowing where I was going.” It just happened so gradually that I just found myself knowing where to go. But if I had to identify one thing to that contributed most to my new-found sense of direction, it would be having a destination goal.
I’ve often thought that I could learn to navigate simply by “walking around” and taking it all in. That’s not the case: what I needed was a concrete destination to be able to plant a flag in. “I’m here right now, and I’m going to here.” Taking in the scenery becomes a bonus, but the destination is what gives the process context. That context is key to be able to know whether you were successful or not (and make adjustments if necessary).
Destination goals, career goals…same difference. Career goals can be a pain in the butt to formulate; it’s not like walking to the Subway restaurant in our subway (yes, we have a Subway in the subway) but many of us have a notion of where we want our careers to go without the destination. So how are we going to know if we get there? And how are we going to make notice of the journey along the way if we’re trying to figure out how to “there” without knowing where “there” is.
That’s the beauty of the goal: it gives you a place to plant you flag. “Yes, I did it,” or “no, I didn’t do it.” And go from there.
Whether you are established in your career or you are just starting out, get clear about where you want to go. It will make career wayfinding easier and more enjoyable.