Congratulations, recent and soon-to-be grads across Canada! Graduation is an exciting time filled with recognition, celebration, and promise. However, post-graduation, it's common to feel a little lost. No longer a student, your schedule, workload, living situation, environment, and expectations quickly shift. If you're feeling unsure about who you are or who you want to become, what career path to pursue, know that you're not alone.
The good news is that discovering your hopeful new destination can be done one step, one day at a time. In fact, small, consistent changes coupled with self-reflection can lead to epic transformations. Fortunately, there are entire books and even new terminology created to break down larger, often overwhelming, goals so that the future you want for yourself comes sooner.
One term is coined in James Clear's book, "Atomic Habits", which emphasizes the concept of...atomic habits...small, consistent improvements over time leading to significant results. He notes that the key to creating lasting change is to focus on small, manageable habits that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine and suggests tracking progress over time to stay motivated and on track. Each habit helps you reach a smaller goal which you discover by breaking own your larger goal first.
Seth Godin, author of "The Practice: Shipping Creative Work", and former .com business executive proposes that we best reach our goals when we recognize and understand how we can create lasting value with our work - value for others. Instead of just working hard, he emphasizes being intentional with your approach so that our daily work, our practice, is filled with meaning.
"There's a practice available to each of us - the practice of embracing the process of creation in service of better. The practice is not the means to the output, the practice is the output," - Seth Godin, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work
As recent graduates, you can use these theories to achieve your career goals by following these steps:
- Define your career goals: Begin by setting clear and specific career goals. Identify what you want to achieve in your career and where you want to be in the next few years.
- Align Your Values System with Your Goals: To be successful in your career is one thing but successful in life?!? Well, that can be another. The trick is sustainable success is a fine balance between what you do, who you are, who you want to be, what you believe in and stand for. Take a look at your career goals and incorporate self-reflection to refine each one so that your vision for the future is aligned with becoming someone you want to be - for yourself and the world.
- Break down your goals into atomic habits: Once you've defined your career goals, break them down into small, manageable atomic habits. For example, if your goal is to develop strong writing skills, you might start by writing for just 10 minutes each day.
- Develop a habit-tracking system: Use a habit-tracking system to monitor your progress and hold yourself accountable. You can use a physical notebook, a habit-tracking app, or even a simple spreadsheet to track your daily habits and measure your progress over time.
- Embrace failure and learn from it: Understand that failure is a natural part of the learning process. Use the failure postmortem technique to anticipate potential problems and obstacles that could arise in the future and address them proactively before they happen.
- Focus on impact: Rather than just working hard, focus on creating impact in your work. Use Seth Godin's approach to measure progress and focus on the value you create for your organization and customers.
- Continuously improve: Don't be afraid to experiment with different habits and routines to find what works best for you. If a habit isn't working, adjust it or try something new until you find a routine that works for you.
By following these steps, you can use habits to achieve your career goals and become who you want to be. Remember to start small, track your progress, embrace failure, focus on impact, and continuously improve. With these habits, recent graduates can develop the skills and habits they need to succeed in their chosen careers and create the impact they desire. So go ahead and take the first step towards your goals, and believe in yourself!
And remember: "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." - Albert Einstein. Whoever you are, whatever you decide to do, there is no one path. If your daily "atomic habits" are intentional and aligned with your inner voice - just keep going.