It’s graduation season and as millions prepare to start a new life chapter, valedictorians and guest speakers are preparing to deliver uplifting speeches
filled with hope and encouragement. Undoubtedly they’ll attempt to inspire with stories designed to encourage reaching goals, seizing opportunities
and achieving greatness. So how will the message be received and what goals will young professionals strive for in their careers?
Signs are hopeful for this graduating class. While our fast paced lives have seemingly become more burdensome, it might be surprising to learn that underlying career drivers have remained largely the same over the years. According to a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, “millennials place much the same weight on many of the same career goals as older employees do.” The emphasis remains heavily on the desire to have a positive impact and helping to solve social and/or environmental challenges. It’s the part about solving challenges that interests me the most.
As a former executive with 3M, franchise development manager and now franchise consultant with FranNet, solving people’s challenges by identifying specific, measurable and achievable goals has been my work for decades. If you don’t start the process by getting clear on what you want to achieve, how can you possibly find the right business for you?
In chapter 4 of his book. Street Smart Franchising, Joe Matthews says, “Goals Schmoals! Why Should I Care About Goals?” He cites a Harvard study conducted between 1979 and 1989 where new Harvard graduates were asked if if they had set clear written goals with plans to accomplish them. Just 13% had goals, but they had not written them down and a whopping 84% had no specific goals whatsoever. Keep in mind, these were graduates from one of the most prestigious schools in the country, so how did the 3% who had written goals fare?
Researchers followed up 10 years later and found that the 13% who had unwritten goals were earning two times as much as the 84% who had no goals, but the big winners were the 3% who had clear written goals when they graduated. These forward thinkers were earning an average of 10 times more than the others in the study.
Intriguing for me, especially since I can’t recall ever writing down my own goals. Perhaps it’s because at about the time of this Harvard study, I defined for myself one professional goal. Solve problems.
How did I figure that out? For years I’ve been telling the story about a billboard I saw with my family in nowhere South Carolina when traveling with my wife and young children in the early 80s. On the billboard was a quote that read,
“There’s no heavier burden than a great opportunity.”
It was a sign in more ways than one. At the time I had just endured two successful, yet stressful years as a business broker. My job was to help people
buy and sell existing independent businesses, but I was at a crossroads. I had discovered that independent small business ownership was more often
a nightmare than a positive experience for most people. I was conflicted and needed to identify a new goal, to figure out what I really wanted to do
with my career.
As I stared at the illuminated message on the billboard, it dawned on me. Buried underneath the burdens of my stressful job was a seed of opportunity. I just needed to uncover it. After franchise regulation in 1979, new and interesting franchise opportunities outside of food service were developing. I was just starting to work with some of these concepts and I found my clients enjoying much greater success in franchising than they were in independent startups. So at that moment I set out to solve my problem. I began converting my business brokerage practice entirely into franchise development and I’ve never looked back.
Since 1999, our team has been helping people identify and lift the professional burdens they’re carrying such as a career that’s run its course or resolving a deep desire to grow a business of their own. Best of all, I help people find franchise businesses to solve other people’s problems, which goes back to most people’s number one career goal—to have an impact on the lives of others.
I remember that drive through South Carolina like it was yesterday and how, the next day, my wife and I drove back down the road to capture it on film. The message on that billboard helped me see through my burdens to find exponential opportunity.
As graduates across the nation set out to define and achieve their goals for the future, I offer this one piece of advice. Look for the opportunities within your burdens and make your goals about solving problems. Even if you choose not to write them down, getting clear on what you want to achieve will put you squarely on the path to success.
If you have a goal that includes finding the opportunities, even if they’re buried within the burdens you carry you don’t always need a sign, you just need a plan. Contact me today and let’s solve the problem.
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