Tobey Maguire says in a recent article ‘I always knew I’d be successful’.
He talks about the belief he had since childhood knowing he would be successful. He didn’t exactly think he would be playing Spiderman, but he did know he would achieve success, despite growing up poor.
Does this goal focus that Maguire had really help in career planning? Should we all pin our career goals to the mast from childhood? Or should we be more flexible in our career thoughts – especially in an uncertain economy.
The answer is probably we should do both (annoyingly). It is better to have a strong goal focus. Knowing what you want to be, where you want to be and what you’ll be doing may well have an impact on it happening – but remain flexible to opportunity.
The reason is that once a goal is firmly set, we can start working steadily towards it. Maguire decided early on he was going to be an actor and then went off to do acting stuff – building up slowly towards the end game. Serendipity has a part to play of course, but if the building blocks weren’t in place, then serendipity would not have much of a chance.
So how to get better goal focus?
- Be clear on why you’re pursuing the goals: If it’s changing job for better salary – have a realistic figure in mind and keep focused on that. If it’s a career change because you hate your current career and really want a change then spend time in working out what will get you where you want to be. Decide on what your next job should look like and think in detail on how it will look.
- Learn to say no: If you get your career goal sorted, but find yourself being pulled of it because of existing pressures from your current job, or demands from family or friends is it worth thinking where (diplomatically) you can say no? If you don’t give enough resource to getting your goal then you won’t get there. A little single mindedness helps.
- Concentrate on 1-3 goals: Having lots to achieve can cause us to go off target sooner. Research on new year’s resolutions showed that those people who stuck to them didn’t take on ten new things – but one or two which they found was easier to stick to.
- Create a plan: Writing out your goals helps. Start by getting a piece of paper and write down what you want, and an ideal time frame. Then start writing. By identifying clearly what you want, you are more able to identify a way of getting there.
Being goal focused does mean a certain amount of realism – but if you can’t picture your goal, it’s even less likely to happen. Even Maguire, though he knew he had talent, went to drama classes, and started getting work in commercials and on TV shows and the rest as they say, is career history.