Bucket list: business person on top of mountain
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20 things that you’ll want on your career bucket list

8 Dec 2016

Do you have an idea of what you want to do over the course of your career? Do you know how to achieve that? Hays’ Jane McNeill offers tips for completing your career bucket list.

Many of us draw up a bucket list of things we’d like to do or achieve in our personal lives, like learning how to dance, trying sky-diving, trekking to Everest base camp or writing a book. But how many of us think about creating a bucket list of milestones for our professional lives?

Writing down a list of all the things you want to achieve in your career can be extremely motivating and help to keep you focused and passionate about what you do in your working life. Depending on your career, items on your bucket list will vary, but here are 20 ideas to get you thinking:

1. I want to work and live in another country

As well as being great for your CV and future career prospects, working in a different country can be deeply enriching and rewarding on a personal level.

To avoid this dream remaining unfulfilled, you’ll need a concrete plan that may involve acquiring additional skills, including learning a new language.

Making it happen is likely to take time so the sooner you get started, the better.

2. I want to be seen as an expert in my field 

This isn’t just about status, but about bringing value to your role that is recognised by your peers and senior managers.

To achieve this, you need to stay informed ­– through networking, reading, and being endlessly inquisitive – about what’s going on in your sector and elsewhere.

3. I want to become a mentor 

Do you see yourself in a mentoring role? Having this as a goal will help shape your career and can inform your choices about learning new skills and/or changing jobs.

4. I want to learn a new language

This could be linked to the first item on the list, although your language skills can be deployed wherever you are based. Just imagine the advantages you’d gain by being able to speak Mandarin to your customers in China, for instance?

5. I want to master a new skill

Acquiring a valued skill, such as coding, can not only stretch you, but afford you the opportunity to possess skills that are highly marketable and may lead to new opportunities.

It could even open up a whole new career path and help you to keep your skills relevant for the future jobs market.

6. I want to gain the confidence to ask for a pay rise, and get one

While no one is likely to turn down the offer of a pay rise, we’re often daunted by the idea of asking for one, perhaps because deep down, we don’t think we’re worth it.

Build up your confidence by setting yourself targets and bringing value to the team. Then you’ll feel more assured about asking for a hike in pay.

7. I want to become confident in public speaking

If this is an area that makes you uncomfortable, search online for tuition or watch how the experts do it at TED, then practise.

Being a skilled presenter is a great skill to have and one that can really make you stand out.

8. I want to learn how to lead and inspire others

You can learn so much these days from leaders you admire, simply because what they do and how they do it is widely available in books and online.

Why not try and identify one key leadership skill per week and add it to your daily practice at work?

9. I want to be my own boss

This is a great dream to have, and highly achievable if you put your mind to it. Getting there may involve a separate to-do list, so what are you waiting for?

10. I want to make sure each CEO of each company I work at knows my name

This implies standing out for all the right reasons and being recognised for your effort and commitment, and the great work you do. Being noticed definitely helps to advance your career, so back yourself and have the confidence to stand out from the crowd.

11. I want to have the courage to speak up and make a change if I am unhappy in a role

While there are highs and lows with every role, it’s important not to compromise on your ambitions and where you want to get to in your career. Speaking up takes courage, but if you really are unhappy in a role, don’t be afraid to say so, or look for a change and a new challenge.

12. I want to achieve something good every day

Promising yourself to achieve something good on a personal and/or professional level every day will add to your sense of purpose and can spur you on to learn new things and acquire new skills. But the goal doesn’t always have to be a personal one, as achieving something good on behalf of someone else, the team, or the organisation, is also important and will be just as rewarding.

13. I want to get promoted

Getting this down in writing can be the first step in manifesting your career goals. Promotions are earned by showing your ability and performance over time. Having this one on your list will help to keep you on track.

14. I want to achieve a healthy and happy work-life balance

Work is rewarding in so many more ways than the salary and benefits we receive from an employer. It gives us a sense of purpose, we get to make a difference, we can be of service to others – the list goes on.

However, to be happy and stay healthy, we need to strike the right balance by investing in our life outside of work, whether that’s taking up a sport or hobby, spending quality time with friends, family or loved ones, or simply making some time for yourself.

15. I want to continually educate myself

As the saying goes, “every day is a school day”.

Adding this to your bucket list will be a constant reminder that even if schoolbooks and lessons are a distant memory, your education goes on. The difference is, now you’re responsible for continuing to learn new things – and for making sure the journey never stops!

16. I want to set a good example for my children

There’s no magic formula or mystery involved when it comes to setting a good example for your children. Through your actions of working hard, setting and achieving goals, and always striving to do your best, you’ll give them the kind of inherited values that no amount of money can buy.

17. I want to be happy and fulfilled in my role

This is not to simply wish for greater job satisfaction, but to commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve it; whether that’s acquiring more advanced skills, asking for more responsibility or taking more initiative.

The ball’s in your court.

18. I want to retire early

Depending on your age and where you are in your career, the dream of retiring early may seem more like wishful thinking than an achievable future; but if you’re serious, then it can be a great way of galvanising your efforts.

As with any goal, the clearer you can be, the better; so work out what you need to do first, then set a date.

19. I want to use up all of my annual leave entitlement

This one resonates with achieving a good work-life balance. To do so may mean not succumbing to pressure at work and cancelling or postponing annual leave. Not going on holiday may carry favour with your boss, but you could end up stressed and burnt out in the long run, so use your annual leave to recharge those batteries.

You should never feel guilty about taking time off.

20. I want to work in a variety of industries

This is a good one for the list as the world of work has changed and few careers are for life these days.

Seen positively, this means that you don’t have to confine yourself to one industry and, by ensuring you have transferrable skills, you can work in other sectors as well.

So there you have it – a career bucket list to use as is, or adapt to suit your own personal goals and ambitions.

And, no matter what stage you are at in your career, compiling a career bucket list can be a powerful way of articulating what you want to achieve, and help you plan how to get there.

By Jane McNeill

Jane McNeill is the director of Hays Australia. Based in Sydney, she oversees Hays’ operations in New South Wales and Western Australia. She is also responsible for Hays Banking and Hays Insurance across Australia.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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