Long-term career goals are silly

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After I graduated college in June 2011, I applied to around 150 jobs in the sports industry. Of these, I landed around 20-25 phone interviews (and one on Skype).

As you can imagine, these got very repetitive very quickly, however, my confidence became extremely high as the process became routine to me.

My least favorite question I encountered over and over again without a doubt was, “What are your goals? “Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?”

Of course the ‘company’ line I threw out was always something like “I aspire to be a public relations manager for a college athletic department or professional franchise, and eventually a director of communications.”

In reality though, I had no idea, and didn’t really want to have one. So I started to say so in interviews. While some were turned off and couldn’t grasp the concept, I believe the honesty in my answer ultimately helped land me my internship with Major League Soccer in New York.

Setting goals that far in advance, while admirable in certain respects if completed, carry the danger of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. That is, something that requires being fulfilled merely for the sake of doing so, even it no longer aligns with a person’s true values or desires. If I set a goal of where I want to be in five years, and when the time comes I am not at that point, I have failed right?

Long-term goals can become distracting and limit personal growth. Our interest, motives, and sometimes even our values change as we age and learn. Having a concrete goal in the distance limits these changes, giving us tunnel vision at a time when we should have our head on a swivel to all the other opportunities around us.

While it’s certainly not wrong to have a few “Someday, I want to. . .”s- hell, my bucket list is full of them- when it comes to your career, it makes much more sense to take things one day at a time and let your life evolve more organically.

Ideally, our short term, more present-minded goals will take care of getting us to where we want to be some time down the road, even if we don’t know exactly where that may be.

The man should shape the goal, not the other way around.

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