We’ve all seen the lists: “25 Before 25,” “30 Before 30,” and (of course) “The Bucket List.” These infamous lists are itemized reminders of goals to accomplish, things to see, adventures to take before a certain deadline, so to speak. (Haven’t seen them? A quick Tumblr search reveals that they’re real and they’re kind of a big deal.) For many of us, it takes a major life event – graduation, birth, death, tragedy, victory) to get us to start thinking about what we really want to do with our lives. Whether your sights are set on something short-term or you’re foreseeing your feats far off in the future, having an achievement map is undeniably helpful. And when it comes to your career, having a “bucket list” is essential. Here’s why.
“Bucket lists” offer a sense of direction and a reason to stay motivated and engaged. We all get stuck – caught up in internship anxiety, struggle to find post-grad jobs, find ourselves in companies or on teams that don’t let us shine. It’s easy to feel frustrated about not being where you envisioned you’d be at this stage of your life and career. But the beauty of the bucket list lies in its ability to keep you focused on moving forward, no matter where you are now.
Challenge yourself to find opportunities to connect your present day reality to your dreams. What will it take to get you to the level to which you aspire? Knowing and documenting what it takes to succeed – whether it’s more formal education, real-world experience, a better understanding of the industries, technologies, and companies in which you’re working, or something completely different – gives you the rudder to steer your career in the right direction.
Create your career “bucket list” by identifying three goals (an education/learning goal, a skill-building goal, and an achievement goal) for the short-term and long-term of your career.
Educational goals expand your horizons and propel you to the next level through knowledge. Start with knowing your interests and what it takes to succeed and stand out, like an MBA or art degree, a thorough understanding of search engine optimization, or a knack for knowing what’s going on in the industry.
Skill-building goals challenge you to apply what you’ve learned through academics and work experience. Start with knowing what makes the top performers in your field the best: working with or managing people, writing compelling content, translating their expertise to non-experts at conferences and events, being certified in Google AdWords, or understanding Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
Achievement goals motivate you to reach farther to get to the next level. These goals often involve raises and promotions, but a job well done cannot always be measured in dollars and cents. For short-term goals, maybe you’re shooting for a positive year-end review or hoping to generate campaign results that make your client do a double-take. In the long-term, maybe you’re looking to establish yourself as a thought leader or land new client accounts. Professional accolades, CLIO Awards, new job titles, and bigger paychecks don’t show up overnight, but identifying achievement stepping stones on the way to the top can help you get there.
Career “bucket lists” don’t take long to create, but it’ll grow and evolve with you over time. New skills will become vital to success, as will new relationships, expertise, and accomplishments. When it comes to your career “bucket list,” start small, but start today.
Originally posted on the Advertising Week Social Club here