Close your eyes. Or if it’s difficult to do while reading this article, leave them open and imagine they’re closed. Now think about what your ultimate employment goals are. Do you want to own your own business? Cure a disease? Maybe you want to contribute to your city or country somehow. No matter what it is you want to accomplish, you won’t get there by standing in place. It’s important that when focusing on your goals, you map out and follow the steps it will take to get there.
This may seem like the most obvious advice in the world. Who doesn’t know that to become a lawyer you need to go to law school to pass the bar? But what if you want to be a Supreme Court Justice one day? What are the steps on a journey to greatness?
This is what a successful person thinks about. The successful person is willing to put in the work, even if their journey is one of many steps. In his book, “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell talks about the “10,000 hours rule,” which proffers that while natural talent in vital for genius, most geniuses worked incredibly hard to attain their levels of greatness. While the Beatles were undeniably musically gifted, they were able to achieve hitherto unheard of musical heights because of the time (over 10,000 hours) they put in to their craft.
So what does this mean for you, the college graduate or young professional standing at the beginning of your journey, looking ahead? It means it’s time to make a plan. The first step in that plan is to figure out your goal. If your goal is “Supreme Court Justice,” your journey will not be college->law school->lawyer->judge. It looks more like this: mock trial, debate team, college, poli sci major, LSATS, law school, law review, first- year position, second- year position, bar exam, clerking, junior associate, senior partner, lower circuit judge, appellate judge, pro-bono work, federal court judge, Supreme Court Justice. There are probably hundreds of other, different steps current justices took to get where they are, but what they all had in common is the fact that they had a goal in mind, realized the complex process involved and stayed tenacious and focused on their journey.
So now you can open your eyes, and write down your ultimate goals. Then write down, at minimum, 10 of the steps it will take you to get there. Be as specific as possible. Then get started on step number one, and happy trails!