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How do you define success? When you look back on your career to date, which moments do you identify as your most “successful”? What makes these moments stand out, and as you move forward into the future, what do your next successes look like in your mind? Visualization is an important part of the goal-setting process, and most experts agree before you move toward a goal, you should know what that goal looks like. That way, you’ll recognize your milestones as you reach them. Keep these tips and considerations in mind as you draw your map and chart your course.

There are no wrong answers in brainstorming.

Start the process by simply brainstorming and daydreaming your way into the next one, three and five years. Take some snapshots of yourself living out your ideal version of success. What are you doing? What’s in the background? Who are the people standing around you? Don’t edit yourself or nitpick the realism or practicality of your vision. Just paint a picture in your mind.

Draw some lines around your vision.

You can leave some parts blurry if you choose, but try to nail down the aspects of your vision that matter most to you. If your job title matters, envision it clearly and write it down. If your workspace or your employer are essential to your vision, write them down as well. Write down the salary you’re earning in this fantasy. Are you helping people? Are you winning a specific award? Clarify the details that you care about.

Break your big goal down into smaller goals.

Once your larger goal is clear in your mind, envision where you’ll be when you’re halfway to that goal. For example, if you’re receiving a promotion to senior manager in one year, where will you be in six months? What will you be doing? And how will you get there?

Break that smaller goal down into even smaller pieces.

Now you know where you’ll be in six months…So how about three months? How about one? Once you’ve turned your primary goal into a series of smaller milestones, start breaking the closest milestones down into clear and purposeful actions. Get as small as you can, until you’ve laid out a series of actions you can complete over the next week, or even the next 24 hours. Then start taking the first tiny steps and crossing those actions off your list. Soon you’ll be on your way to your first milestone, and then your second and so on.

If you stay on track and stick with your plan, one year’s worth of actions and milestones will be behind you before you know it. And by that point, your larger goal will start coming into sight! For more tips on how to get moving, reach out to the Milwaukee career management team at Extension.

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