By Susan Ricker
Make your first million. Get the corner office. Start your own company. Take over the family business. Publish a book. Retire by a certain age.
Career goals may vary, but they all mark the reaching of a professional achievement. While it's up to you to decide what career accomplishments matter most, you might not know where to start. "The first step is to visualize what you want and then you create a plan to execute," says Roy Cohen, career counselor, executive coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.
Cohen shares his tips for developing your career bucket list, or the goals you want to reach before the end of your career:
1. Set stretch goals.
Create objectives that contribute to larger goals, such as expanding your knowledge, raising your professional visibility, getting a promotion or finding a new job. You can do this by taking classes, getting a certification or writing an article for an industry publication. If you are receiving unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for free tuition toward classes and certificate programs through your state's labor department. It takes time, so plan now.
2. Establish relationships with influencers.
Influencers are people who are in the loop on industry trends, opportunities and career insights. View them as mentors or advisers to whom you reach out for direction, perspective and ideas. They usually have dynamic careers and are involved in diverse initiatives, and as a consequence, they can offer you a more informed perspective.
3. Repair damaged relationships.
If you left a job on bad terms, or you've been out of touch with former colleagues, it's time to catch up with them. Time can be a neutralizer of frayed edges and unresolved issues, so it's worth reaching out. When it comes to achieving goals, one of the biggest barriers to moving forward is the baggage you carry from unresolved relationships and issues.
Since 2013 is just around the corner, now's the time to reassess 2012. What could you have done differently? Recognize that achieving your goals is all about follow-up and gratitude. Is your follow-up correspondence showing your potential to add value and offer solutions? Is it well-written? If not, get feedback on how you can improve the way you communicate.
When creating your bucket list, ask yourself what's important to you, what accomplishments you've admired in others' careers and what goals would get you closer to reaching nonwork-related milestones. A career bucket list doesn't have to be completely serious; balance hard work with more lighthearted plans, such as earning a bonus so you can buy yourself something special or accruing extra vacation time so you can visit a dream destination.
Susan Ricker is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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