Like a ship without a rudder

Another week, another assessment centre done. Another wonderful group of graduates turned up, another few made all of us say “wow”. Another group of grads will go home disappointed, another will celebrate joining us. Another stage in their lives, another stage in ours.

I think it may have been because I knew I was going to write this blog, but I particularly enjoyed spending time with this last group. I felt, all along, that I would right a few tips to another stage of our assessment centres. But I’m not. Today I’m going to talk about goals. Today I’m going to talk about objectives.

Today I’m going to talk about plans.

At our assessment centres this week I got to spend individual, one to one time with 7 of you. Here’s what I realised.

A graduate without a plan is like a ship without a destination.

So what does that mean? Well, here’s what I think. We live in a world of more content than we can consume. A world where there are new inventions, technologies, apps, companies and jobs being created every day. A world where the possibilities are endless, truly – a 21 year old graduate right now has more opportunities, avenues and options in front of her/him than ever before.

I just used the phrase “the possibilities are endless” – now this is a challenging phrase, of course wonderful and exciting, but also easy to see how you could get lost in ‘endless possibilities’ right? Trying to make meaningful decision in a world of endless/infinite possibilities/options is hard.

But what does that mean to a graduate? It means that those of you who are able to tell me what you want out of life and why, stand out.

Let’s go back to the boat analogy – why not (?!) – your raw ingredients (some people call this potential) is what gets you floating. The ability to learn, communicate, think, problem solve, apply theories to real world situations, write are your raw ingredients and it’s these things that get you floating.

Having a purpose, being able to finish the sentence “In the future I want….” Gets you moving. That gives you some kind of direction and turns the engine(s) on. I guess you could change the world purpose with the word “dream” or “ambition” – having a dream, an ambition, a purpose all get you moving an a direction and give you an answer to “Why are you doing that?”

The secret sauce, the magic, the ‘x factor’ comes from having goals. Having real, tangible, measurable goals. Ideally these goals will have timeframes attached to them too.

Let’s go with an example. Graduate leave university with a degree in English from a good Uni – they’re floating. Graduate has a dream of one day running their own publishing business – they’re moving. Graduate wants to be working in publishing and have a minimum of one direct report by the time they’re 27 – now they’re driving in a specific direction towards a specific goal.

Potential gets you floating – purpose gets you moving – goals get you achieving.

In my next blog I’m going to go about answering the “but what if I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life” question.

In the meantime maybe ask yourself the question “what do I want from life?” “in the world of endless possibilities which of them look like they’d make me happy?”

Until then