As you start out your new job, one of the first things you do for yourself and with your manager is map out goals or milestones you hope to achieve. This could be as vague as completing your first project or as specific as getting promoted by the next year.
When I first started at Google almost a year ago, my goals were started out big and fluffy. I wanted to ensure I wasn’t designing in a vacuum and that I could articulate my designs to stakeholders. I wanted to take part in design outreach events, and like most people early in their careers, I wanted to get promoted within a certain timeframe. These goals were fine, but they lacked definition in the context of how I could apply them in my day to day work. For some other designers, they might not even know what their goals are starting out.
With the help of my manager, we were able to narrow down my goals, turn them from aspirations into actionable goals and create a roadmap in which success can be measured. Here are a few questions that can help you think about your career if you aren’t too sure about what your goals are, and a future article will be about using those answers to create tangible goals and how to measure them. For current reference, I have written a previous article about mapping out goals through “moments” here.
1. What are you most passionate about?
You might have seen this question before, whether during a job interview or when talking to someone you don’t really know. On the spot, it can be hard to think of the things that make you passionate, but this question is important when it comes to thinking of your career goals. You want your goals to have meaning and are what naturally make you motivated.
When I thought about the things I was passionate about, I thought about work that was challenging to me because it brought the most satisfaction when I overcame my weaknesses. I also thought about my personal hobbies and tried to find parallels among those to bring into my design work.
Finding things you are passionate about can also help understand the impact you bring. This helps you find your purpose behind doing what you do and can lead to mapping out specific goals within your bigger purpose.
2. What about your work energizes you?
Thinking about aspects that make your work fun or fulfilling can allow your manager to help you find projects that are based on those said aspects.
When I told my manager that I wanted to work on projects that had lots of potential for growth, along with being clear with how that I would benefit my growth, he had a better idea of the kind of work I wanted to do. From there, he has to put me in situations where I have a lot of autonomy over my work and grow because that is the kind of work that motivates me and helps acknowledge my weaknesses to overcome them.
You have a lot more authority when it comes to choosing work. Let your manager know what kind of work you want to do, from exploring a product space to strengthening certain hard/soft skills. If you find any projects within your team, don’t be afraid to pitch in and work with your manager to make it happen. After all, your manager is here to support your career decisions.
3. What are you most proud of in your career so far?
This allows you to recollect the moments that were pivotal in your growth or what simply made you feel accomplished. How can you have more experiences that make you feel similarly in this job?
No matter how much experience you have, there will always be something to learn. It can be tough to feel like there isn’t anything to achieve. This question allows you to appreciate everything you have done thus far, and open the possibilities for even more opportunity as you progress in your career.
4. Where do you see yourself in 1/2/5/10 years?
Future mapping allows you to craft long term goals that you might not think you can achieve now, but aiming for the future and working towards smaller goals can help you get there.
This question gives you a reality check and connects your goals with where you are now. Does the role that you are currently in align with your future goals? If so, what are some of those goals and can you break apart those goals into actionable items you can do within (insert time frame here)? Breaking apart your goals into smaller time frames can distinguish your short term and long term goals to help you map out goals that are reasonable in the moment, but also help set you up for bigger goals.
5. Who are your role models?
Think of any role model you have. What makes you look up to your role models? What are the personality traits that draw you in and why? What work do they do? Digging deeper into types of experiences your role models have can reveal your values and aspirations as a person. Using those values which resonate with you, as well as the work that drives you and what you want to accomplish, how can they make you successful?
Goal setting is the first step to achieving success within your work and paving the path to doing what you want to do. It also allows you to measure success by determining whether or not you are meeting those goals. By working with your manager on what these goals are, you can meet these goals through your day-to-day work and ensure that whatever you do, you will have support to meet them.
To help you get started on owning your design career, here are some amazing tools from Rookieup, a site I used to get mentorship from senior designers.
- Build a portfolio with help from an experienced designer
- Essential tools to strengthen and build your portfolio
Links to some other cool reads:
- What I learned From Interviewing and Receiving Offers from Google Two Times
- I interviewed at Facebook as a new grad. Here is what I learned about design
- Journey Mapping is the Key to Gaining Empathy
- UX is Grounded in Rationale, not Design
5 Questions That Can Establish, Accomplish and Measure The Achievement Of Your Design Goals was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.