Achieve Big Goals by Taking a Million Baby Steps

dreams stepsIn Mark Cuban’s book How to Win at the Sport of Business, he mentions that in his early years he created a list of cool jobs he wanted to have one day.

And it obviously worked out well for him. From working on computer systems to owning an NBA franchise, Cuban has built a legacy by setting a goal and then figuring out how to make that goal a reality.

As a young professional, I go back and forth with myself daily about all the cool things I would love to do. What I often fail to do, however, is focus what lies between what I’m doing now… and that awesome thing on my list I want to do eventually.

The fact is: it’s easy to get caught up in what I like to call, “It would be sweet to…” scenarios:

  • It would be sweet to get an internship at Google
  • It would be sweet to invent the next Facebook
  • It would be sweet to be the marketing manager for the Chicago Bulls

I find myself dreaming of these scenarios all the time. And they aren’t all about Google, Facebook the Bulls; whenever a career opportunity arises, I apply the “It would be sweet to” test as I envisioning the cool things that I *could* be doing at that company.

The reality of sweet goals, though, is that they can’t happen by clicking your heels, Dorothy-style. The dream jobs usually come about by being willing to take baby steps toward your biggest goals!

Almost no one starts at Google. You must work your way up. And all the while, you must be figuring out how to build on your body of work – and eventually put that big goal in sight.

So how do you accomplish your sweet goals? How do you, while working smaller jobs at less-dynamic-than-Google companies, stay focused on the end-game? Here are some suggestions…

Build Your Future Resume

Stop thinking of your resume as communication tool that shows what you’ve done.

Instead, use it as a path to show what you’ll need to do to get your achieve your sweet goals – a “future resume.” In other words, what will your resume need to look like 5 years from now to get the dream gig? 10 years from now?

For instance, if you want to work at Google in 5 years, I’d imagine that learning to code, creating innovative business strategies and developing a passion for solving human problems would need to be on your resume come 2020. I also imagine that you’ll want to demonstrate quantified achievements, so you’ll need to work in a role where your contributions are fairly easy to track. And, chances are you may want to work for a competitor to Google, or perhaps for one of their vendors or partners.

Challenge yourself: Think about what your resume must look like 5 to 10 years from now… and then start filling in the blanks!

Talk to Those Currently Living Your Sweet Goal

As young professionals, we often view our sweet goals much sweeter than they really are. Other times, we are detoured by misguided advice, our financial realities and impatience. I mean, what if working for Facebook really sucks? What if your sweet goal really isn’t so sweet?

The answer is simple: talk with those already living your dream!

In the Social Age, it has never been easier to get connected with these people. A quick LinkedIn search will pull up thousands of your potential mentors that are more than happy to give you their two cents. Reach out! Connect with them, share your story and see what it took for them to get where they are. Ask them questions such as:

  • Five years ago today, where did you picture yourself?
  • Did you imagine yourself doing the work you’re doing now? What’s different about it? What do you like better/worse?
  • If you were in my shoes, what opportunities would you go after?

There is no doubt in my mind: after speaking with these mentor and influencers, your goals will either be strengthened or eliminated – and that’s the purpose! Wouldn’t it be frustrating to work extremely hard to accomplish your sweet goal… only to find out that you had it all wrong from the start?

Challenge yourself: Reach out to a few potential mentors and influencers. Ask good questions and deliberately listen to the answers. Then, start developing your “Mark Cuban” plan.

As you go through the job search process, don’t let your “It would be sweet to…”  moments go to waste. Set lofty goals. Dream big! And along the way, take a million baby steps, if that is what it takes, to get where you want to go!


MackAbout the AuthorMack Watts is completing his junior year at The Ohio State University. He currently works in strategic partnerships and business development at YouTern. When out of the office, Mack loves frequenting the nearest Chipotle and watching his Buckeyes. In addition to blogging for The Savvy Intern, he also manages and writes for 6 Rings Sports. Follow Mack on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!



This entry was posted in Career Advice, Gen Y and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.