Skip navigation

Redefining work goals to take control of your career


DATE: 14 February, 2017

Have you ever wondered what the view looks like from heaven? Well, without leaving this mortal coil, Preikestolen in Norway is about as close as you will get. It is where thrill seekers go for that perfect photo that shows them standing boldly on top of the world. Not only does it require stamina, but also a lot of bravery.

Often when it comes to your career, reaching your ultimate goals seems like an equally challenging task, but it requires more than perseverance and pluckiness. While you know what you want the view to look like when you arrive, capturing it is harder because unlike hiking to the top of the mountain, there is no map.

One of the things I’ve always aspired to do in my career is staying ahead of change. But future proofing requires a lot of consideration. You can’t just hop on the ride and hope for the best. For me this has meant constantly looking at gaps in my experiences and filling them.

There are lots of ways to do that — I’ve found building edifying networks, ongoing study and chasing the unfamiliar have been helpful.

First things first — you must have goals!

I think goal setting is more often than not evolutionary. Sure, some people have been list makers from the time they could write one, but for the majority it’s a maturing process. When you understand this, you can start to expedite your own progress.

Let me explain what I mean. I think mostly people fall into one of three camps. For the majority, they just make good with what they have in front of them. I’ve been there, but it’s mostly circumstantial — not strategic and therefore highly likely to lead to frustration.

Then there is a second group. They are clear about what they want to do, but they don’t realise this doesn’t necessarily sync to what they want to have or experience. It’s my belief then that the third evolutionary phase is ideal; one where you are driven by your values and all your career decisions work backwards from that.

Ask yourself, what do you really want! Family, travel, time, money? These value-based goals need to be prioritised, because it’s rare they just fall into place.

Once you really know that, it’s time to get practical!

It does confuse me when I hear people say, I haven’t done that before so I wouldn’t go for that job. You are not defined by your job description — it is a guide! You should be looking at your boss’s JD and their KPIs and back yourself that you will figure things out along the way. It’s not true you have to have done every job in the company to effectively run it. This is an emancipating thing when it comes to living out your potential.

Great leaders haven’t mastered all skills but have focused on the most important ones: emotional intelligence — having a desire for understanding people; building confidence through risk taking, realising failure is not an inhibitor but a signpost for learning; and being adaptable — reveling in change as you work to stay in front of it.

My four tips for honing these high performing habits:

1. Teach!

It’s a great way to learn, because you have to hold yourself accountable. Write a blog, take on a mentee, lecture at a University, TAFE or school. You will never feel as alive as when you shoulder this responsibility.

2. Put some of your hard earned on the market

Until you really know what it feels like to risk some of your own money based on your ideas or work, you will always be disadvantaged. It’s important you learn to roll the dice and brush yourself off when it doesn’t come out your way.

3. Get out of your own space

So many people hold themselves back when they compare what they do with their peers in the same industry. This kind of navel gazing isn’t helpful. It’s unlikely you will ever engineer a true step change if you are trying to better the herd. Jump the fence and absorb what you see in other paddocks!

4. Have a global mindset

Give yourself every chance to experience cross-cultural divides. Just like you don’t need to have done every job to know how they pull together to best effect, you don’t need to have worked in every country to run a regional or global program or business. What you will do however when you take on responsibilities in other geographies, is understand how to adapt to your circumstances. Don’t wait to be asked — volunteer!

Finally, two things that should become your mantra as you start to implement your goals:

  • Focus your time on the most important things! In other words, don’t spend time shuffling deck chairs on the titanic. This means being comfortable saying ‘no’ when you need to.
  • And… Don’t ask for permission, beg for forgiveness (if it doesn’t work out). Fortune favours the brave. The best careers are forged by those that unashamedly pursue their mission!


My name is Aaron Crowther. is my Blog for anyone interested in communications strategy, leadership or social media. I'm also pleased to have my content syndicated on Business 2 Community. I'm an Aussie, passionate about purposeful comms! Views are my own.