561: Career Goals

A Thousand Things to Talk About
561: Career Goals

Do you have career goals?

Full episode script

It’s a slightly more grown-up version of the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question — but asked just as often. It’s not uncommon to be asked about career goals in job interviews, by curious parents, by mentors, or even just friends. An article published in Inc by Brian de Haaff is pretty common of the career goal genre. Quote:

Successful people take a methodical approach to setting career goals. It starts with defining what “success” means to them, then building a career roadmap to achieve that vision. It takes patience and perseverance, but it pays off. When it comes to career goals the equation is simple: Planning + Persistence = Success. The equation is simple, but it requires hard work.


There’s a certain simplicity to this kind of belief — that if you set yourself a goal and dedicate yourself to it, then your goals will be completed in some form or fashion over a long period of time. But — having a career goal isn’t necessarily a requirement. In fact, some argue that it’s not even realistic any longer.


In the July 2018 Harvard Business Review, Tania Luna and Jordan Cohen argue that, quote:

This vision of career growth no longer matches reality. We no longer need to be good at predicting the future; we now have to succeed when the future is unpredictable. We have to abandon the career myth and create a new framework for personal and professional growth. First, we tell employees that it is fine and even preferable not to have a concrete career path in mind. Being overly attached to a specific path can turn into a career trap — blinding us to nonlinear opportunities for growth.


And, as some people have made it a point to highlight in their own lives, having a single path you tie yourself to doesn’t work for everyone. As Chritine Drummond wrote in her blog, the Wallet Diet, quote:

I enjoy what I do and though I’m certainly not close to making bucket loads of money, my salary is enough to live comfortably. There are good days and bad at work but it’s not soul draining like many other office jobs can be. I have a good job but it’s not what I want to do forever. I don’t actually know what I want to do forever because I’m fine taking on any job that will give me the time, energy, and resources to focus on the things that matter the most to me.


Perhaps, of course, that’s the important thing. It’s not so much about what exactly your job or title is, but it may be more about the experiences you have. For some, career goals may be more the focus — and for others, it may be experiential goals.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.