Setting Goals in Spite of Uncertainty

Rachel Ludwig
Posted by in Career Advice

Whether it’s a cross-country move, a spouse’s new job placement, or the changing economic climate, there are many times when uncertainty plays a big part in the job search. It can be difficult to figure out your path when the future is foggy and unknown. 

As job seekers, we’re generally taught to have hyper-specific goals and to follow clearly outlined steps toward career advancement and success. By defining our goals in a broader sense, with steps that can be reached in a multitude of ways, we can regain a sense of stability and actually become more adaptable and flexible overall. 

Consider these questions to help you establish your “broad goals”:

What types of work do I want to do? 

This big question is at the top of most jobseekers’ lists. Think of a few types of jobs or types of work that would make you happy and fulfilled in the long run. This is your time to think outside the box and identify core values that are important to you. Instead of focusing on one particular job, try coming up with a few different kinds of roles that would appeal to you. Especially in times of uncertainty, it can be helpful to visualize multiple pathways to a successful, fulfilling career. 

Do I need training or certification? 

Often, uncertainty comes in the form of a move, a life change, or a circumstance outside of your control. With the availability of online certification and online education, it’s now possible to study a huge variety of subjects and learn a range of skills from anywhere with just a Wi-Fi connection and a laptop. While some courses and certifications require larger time and financial commitments, there are also online academies that offer either financial aid or completely free certifications. Just be sure to do your research first to find out which option is best suited for your goals. 

Can I do this work anywhere? 

As you define your career goals, if you are uncertain about your location or where you might be in the next year, it’s useful to think of jobs that exist in many different places. Teachers, nurses, IT specialists, accountants, and many other jobs can be found in cities across the country. Additionally, many jobs can be done remotely. As you define your search and goals, ask if your desired career could be achieved almost anywhere. 

Who in my network can help me achieve these goals? 

Reaching out for help and making connections can be a great way to combat uncertainty. Whether it’s friends or neighbors or professional acquaintances, all connections can be resources and might be able to point you towards opportunities or further help. At times, it can be challenging to open up about areas of uncertainty in our lives, but letting your network know that you are on the job hunt might help you identify strong leads. 

While uncertainty can bring stress and challenges, it can also bring positive change and growth. Having goals that can adapt and change alongside your unique circumstances can keep you focused and flexible as you work toward your next chapter. 


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch