Ambition Overdrive: How To Achieve Your Biggest Career Goals

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Nov. 28 2023, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Women are more ambitious than ever before. According to Elisa van Dam of the Simmons University Institute of Inclusive Leadership, women are eager to make significant contributions to the workforce and move up the career ladder. Many have already done so remotely, where they can strike a better work-life balance, giving focus to other important matters.

1. Set SMART goals.

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Commonly cited research by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University found 43% of people who wrote down their goals achieved or halfway achieved them by the end of the study. However, not just any goal will do.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. The SMART criteria break goals down into feasible and trackable steps. It also helps you clearly define what you’re after.

2. Find a mentor.

In moments of self-doubt, a mentor champions you to greatness. Mentors have ample experience and industry insights they can share while answering your questions, brainstorming ideas, problem-solving and devising your career path.

A good mentor will challenge you to help you grow professionally. You can search for a mentor by contacting people in your network. Your company might also have a mentorship program to help you connect with someone.

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3. Develop your skills.

Everything in life is a learning opportunity, and the workplace is no exception. As Intuitive Surgical’s Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity, Katie Juran, reflects on her first year with the company, she plans to invest in additional training and education to equip leaders with adequate knowledge and resources to succeed. You can do the same by enrolling in community college or online classes, seminars and workshops to fill the knowledge gaps and polish your skills. 

Your workplace may also offer professional development. Inquire with your manager about opportunities and explain your career goals to them. The company may be willing to pay for courses and training programs.

4. Network with your peers.

Perfectionists do their best to avoid missteps and feel down when they occur. However, a study from the Journal of Knowledge Management shows people who accept their mistakes undergo the most growth.

Building a network also fosters exchanging ideas and insights about your industry. You can interact with people of all career levels and boost your social and professional confidence.

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5. Learn from mistakes.

Perfectionists do their best to avoid missteps and feel down when they occur. However, studies show people who accept their mistakes undergo the most growth. 

Mistakes are learning opportunities. Every time you make one, reflect on what happened and what you can do differently next time. These lessons will help you improve and rise in your career.

6. Avoid comparisons.

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While comparing yourself to others is typical, remember your journey is your own. You got to where you are differently than your co-workers, but it doesn’t mean you don’t belong or are undeserving of your position. Likewise, you’ll continue to climb the career ladder and achieve your goals at your own pace.

If you have difficulty overcoming imposter syndrome, ask your closest friends and family what you are good at. Their lists of your best traits will highlight your strengths and energize you to continue working toward your goals.

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7. Celebrate wins.

Perhaps you sealed the deal on a new contract or got a promotion. Even something as small as coming up with a productivity hack is a win for career growth.

Reward yourself, accept people’s congratulations and reflect on the journey. Some people like creating a “smile file” in their inbox for positive feedback and compliments. Others write down career achievements for a visual of how far they’ve come.

8. Seek new opportunities.

You must proactively seek new opportunities to achieve your biggest career goals. Consider when your last promotion was. If you’ve stayed in the same position for two to five years, you’re well past “entry-level” and should be moving up the career ladder.

Either inquire about what you must do to get promoted or spruce up your resume. It could be time to move on to another company.

Visualize Your Career Goals To Succeed

You are the only one who will get you where you want to be professionally. Start envisioning your future and set the ball in motion. Your biggest career goals are within reach.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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