Saturday, June 9, 2012

Job Seekers: The REAL Reasons You Are Not Reaching Your Goals

You are undoubtedly familiar with the term SMART goal setting with SMART being an acronym for the words Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding and Time-bound.  The reality is that if goals, even the SMART ones were easy to reach, then we would all be industry rock stars, billionaires, brain surgeons and rocket scientists.  Even though there are TONS of coaches out there that tell you that all you need to do to succeed is dream big and keep you eyes on the prize, I am not one of them.  I am going buck the current trend and throw a wrench into your dream machine by telling you that having big dreams and a good strategy is simply not enough.  You will also have to walk the walk.  Moreover, that walk is not a stroll in the park or a meander along the beach shore but rather something more akin to the trial of King Sisyphus.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Greek legend, the story is that King Sisyphus offended Zeus and that as punishment Sisyphus was damned to roll an enormous boulder to the top of a steep hill.  Unfortunately for Sisyphus, each time the boulder neared the top of the hill, the rock rolled back down the hill and Sisyphus was forced to start again.  Fortunately, it is extremely unlikely that you, as a job seeker in the 21st century, have any reason to fear the wrath of Zeus.  What you do need, however, is to understand why it feels like you are repeatedly pushing that metaphoric boulder up the hill and what to do about it.

Reason One: You are searching alone.   Unemployment and/or under-employment are stressful.  Look and find support from others who can help you with your job search strategy or are in a similar situation.

Reason Two: You are not measuring your success rate [ROI].  Review your job search strategy and compare the time you taking doing a particular task to your rate of success.  This ROI analysis may surprise you.  You refuse to change the plan.  Understand that you are not the first person who has set the bar a little too high in terms of your own expectations.  If something is not working for you, change it!  

Reason Three: You are not measuring the right stuff.  Your Key Performance Indicators [KPI], when set up properly, will show you what is working for you and what isn’t working for you.  Make sure you are measuring the right things. E.g. Time searching for opportunities on the Internet, time spent marketing yourself on-line or off-line, rate of résumé submissions to interview calls, etc.

Reason Four: You refuse to change course.  You have done your ROI analysis and you know you are spending 80% of your time on an activity that is not resulting in an 80% success rate.   Stop spending an inordinate amount of time on what is not working.  

Reason Five: Your expect results without putting in the time.  There is no magic bullet!  Think long-term.  Acknowledge that anything worth having is going to require the correct amount of resources, i.e. time, skills and effort.  No one can wake up one morning and decide that today is the day that they are going to run a marathon unless they have put in the time necessary to properly train for it.

Reason Six: You are not properly taking care of your mental and physical health.  Burnout is REAL.  When you are not a priority in your own life, your enthusiasm [desperation] will contribute to your inevitable burnout. Acknowledge the fact that this period of unemployment, or under-employment, will include both good and bad days and that you need to prepared for both. A moderate, sustained effort is better for you than intense bursts that leave you exhausted. Pacing yourself is crucial to achieving your goals.

Reason Seven:  You are waiting for your ‘Perfect Storm’.  Life is inherently imperfect.  When you wait for the perfect time, perfect place or perfect opportunity, you may turn your desire for perfection into procrastination.  Understand that your ‘perfect storm’ may never hit and the time spent waiting for it to do so is time well wasted.

Reason Eight: Persistence counts and resilience counts even more than persistence. Stop reading gloomy job forecasts or articles related to how poorly the economy is doing.  You only need one employer to say ‘Yes, I want/need you!’ to move forward!

Reason Nine: Stop trying to please others. Pleasing others at the cost of what brings you pleasure builds resentment.  Strive to understand the rationale for making the choices you have made in the past and the choices you are currently making on a day-to-day basis.  Are you building towards the future you desire or still throwing your limited resources at some unreasonable goal.   

Reason Ten: Learn from your mistakes.  Leave your history in the past.  Stop punishing yourself for the choices you made. 
            “When you know better, you do better.”~ Maya Angelou  
            “Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” ~ Maya Angelou

The good news here is that everyone has sabotaged his or her goal achieving progress in one way or another.  The other good news is that you can succeed.  Your ultimate success depends not upon ONE goal but rather upon a series of goals with SMART timelines attached to them.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at