Astronaut Shane Kimbrough at Arlington Career Center (NHQ201709120121)

Having some big and ambitious dreams in your professional life can potentially make all the difference in how successful you end up being, as well as how fulfilling you find your work on an everyday basis.

Unfortunately, the all-too-common situation for many of us is that we end up not setting significant goals for our professional lives (or at least not making a concerted and focused effort to pursue them), and instead find ourselves caught in the same old loops, day after day.

If you find that you’ve been living your professional life essentially “on autopilot” for a while, and aren’t especially pleased with where it’s taken you, taking the time to dream big and set yourself some effective career goals can be very empowering.

Here are some suggestions in order to help you to do so.

Start by envisioning where you want to be, without letting your own “inner censor” get in the way

Whether you would ideally like a career in software testing, or whether you would want to become an astronaut, the simple fact of the matter is that what often keeps us from really pursuing our career goals is our own lack of self belief.

We all have something like an “inner censor” inside of us, that has the unpleasant tendency to give us negative feedback and unhelpful self-criticism, often on a regular basis, but at least from time to time.

Suffice to say, you’re very unlikely to be able to set yourself motivating and empowering professional goals — much less to actually make headway on achieving them — if you’re constantly having your expectations and dreams defined or crushed by that negative inner voice.

The first step in dreaming big is to simply imagine where you would ideally want to be, without letting your “inner censor” get in the way.

Instead of thinking about what would be “practical,” or “achievable” or “realistic,” just allow yourself the freedom to imagine your dream scenario. Something that is meaningful to you on a deeper level, that is fulfilling, that is enjoyable, and that is rewarding overall.

Once you’ve come up with the vision, the goal, then you can start discovering the path forward, one step at a time.

Address and question limiting beliefs or assumptions that may be getting in your way

In addition to our own doubts and insecurities often getting in the way of us daring to dream big in the first place, it also commonly happens that our own limiting beliefs and assumptions can stop us from making progress along the way.

If you find that you are regularly unmotivated, frustrated, nervous, and irritable about working to pursue a goal of yours, there is almost sure to be some underlying belief or assumption that is responsible.

This could be anything from “it will be boring to do the work,” to “I’m bound to fail.”

Identifying those limiting beliefs and inner narratives, and then directly questioning and challenging them, can really help to put you into a more motivated and empowered frame of mind, where — if anything — you take real pleasure in moving forward consistently and taking reliable action.

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Think of which daily systems will help to keep you on track to achieving your goals

Most significant career goals aren’t going to be the kinds of things that you can just achieve over the course of a weekend, but are rather the kinds of things that you need to work on consistently and systematically over time.

Your daily systems, routines and habits will tend to have a major impact on how reliably you are able to progress towards a given goal — or to find ways around the obstacles you might be confronted by along the way.

Take the time to think about which daily habits and routines you should implement in order to keep you on track to achieving your goals, as time goes on.

Get organized and regularly remind yourself of what you’re working towards

When all is said and done, it’s essentially impossible to achieve any substantial goal if you are disorganized and have a haphazard way of conducting yourself on a daily basis.

Getting organized with regards to things like how you schedule and plan your days, and the kinds of tools you use to stay on top of your tasks and projects, can make a tremendous difference in your ability to succeed.

Reminding yourself of what you’re working for, day by day, can also be deeply motivating and can keep you from straying off course.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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