5 good reasons to build a Goal Tree when considering changing your job

Your current job sucks or you’re stuck in your career? Before rushing to the next best job you may benefit from a rational analysis of your ambition and your current situation building a Goal Tree. Here are 5 good reasons to build a Goal Tree when considering changing your job:

  1. Get clarity about what you want to achieve (in the long term)
  2. Get your emotions out of the way
  3. Understand what you need to do to get fit for your next job
  4.  Assess your readiness for the next job
  5. Reflect on the roadmap to close the gaps

You may also like a more detailed step-by-step guide:
How can a Goal Tree help you changing job? A series of 5 posts

The Goal Tree briefly

The Goal Tree is a logic analysis tool as well as a visual management tool, a benchmark and roadmap altogether. It is generally used to structure and rollout strategies or prepare the Work Breakdown Structure of a project.

The analysis lists all prerequisites, in sequential order, to achieve a goal. I used the Goal Tree for different purposes and I’ve built a Goal Tree while preparing my next career move.

Please note that this testimonial is written from a French local perspective, taking into account the cultural, regulatory and social background. Job swapping is not something taken lightly and some rules apply. Yet even in more liberal economies, some rationality might come handy as well.

For the details about the Goal Tree and how to build one, please visit my dedicated Goal Tree pages.

1. Get clarity about what you want to achieve (in the long term)

Building a Goal Tree starts with a clear statement of the Goal. It is advised to invest some time to seriously reflect and think about your long term ambition or wants, because the Goal statement will determine all the next steps, the list of Necessary Conditions or Prerequisites to achieve your Goal.

The Goal statement is often iterative as you may rephrase it while building the Tree. This is normal. It can’t be a significant change though, unless you got it wrong in the first place and having your aha moment, discovering your true Goal.

2. Get your emotions out of the way

When dissatisfied with a job, it is easy to leave for any better looking job just for the sake of changing. Anger, bitterness, disappointment or fear are no good counsel. Regardless of how much you trust your intuition or gut feelings, this rational analysis with the Goal Tree sets emotions aside and provides you a clear logical picture of what is necessary to achieve your Goal and how close you are from achieving it.

The logical analysis may confirm your intuition or not. There is a slight risk of biasing the Goal Tree if you can’t refrain from letting your emotions aside. In the worst case you’ll end up with a Wish Tree, not a Logical Goal Tree.

If you concentrate on the exercice and stick to the simple rule of necessity-based logic, you are likely to tame your emotional self and end-up with a good Goal Tree.

Here a side note: usually Logical Thinking Process practitioners do strongly recommend not building a Goal Tree alone. This is especially true when dealing with corporate goals. For such intimate exercise however, I admit the fact of building the Tree alone. If it can be reviewed by some trusted tier, it is a way to probe its logical soundness and overall robustness.

3. Understand what you need to do to get fit for your next job

Obviously you are not at the brinks of achieving your Goal, otherwise building the Goal Tree is overkill. That’s also the reason why the Goal should be a long-term and ambitious one.

Building a Goal Tree is listing in logical and sequential manner all Necessary Conditions, Intermediate Objectives or Prerequisites to achieve your Goal.

Necessary Conditions, Intermediate Objectives and Prerequisites are interchangeable words here.

Go as far as you feel necessary when drilling down into the Necessary Conditions (NCs). One good hint to understand where you can stop is when you reach the layers of conditions that you / that are already fulfilled.

All conditions should go up and concentrate on 3 to 5 top conditions, just before leading to the Goal. Those top most Necessary Conditions are called Critical Success Factors and are a kind of summary of all related underlying NCs. For instance, one may be “Relevant  education / cursus” summing-up all conditions related to education, training, knowledge…

4. Assess your readiness for the next job

Once the Tree is complete, at least to the degree you are happy with it, start from the bottom where the first and timely closest prerequisites reside and color-code them.

The 3-color code I suggest is:

  • Green: a condition steadily fulfilled, e.g. “need to be aged 21” when you already are 22 is a green one. No need to care about.
  • Amber: a condition partially fulfilled or unsteady. You can’t say it totally ok, but on the other hand there is something, in some extend that is compliant to the requirement.
  • Red: Missing or failing. No way to pretend it will do.

Work your way up the tree with colors and apply the following rule: a Necessary Condition can only be colored the same color than the worst status underlying NCs. If one NC has 3 underlying NCs, one green, one amber and one red, it must be red. Two amber and one green turns it amber. Only when all underlying NCs are green can the upper one turn green.

Once the Goal Tree colored, don’t be surprised to see it wearing autumn colors. However, the more red and the farthest from your Goal. Too much of red may mean than the chosen Goal could be out of reach – at least in a reasonable time span – or very difficult to achieve.

Too much of green and you weren’t ambitious enough, are happy to have achieved what you wanted and the Goal Tree gives you the rational evidence of it, or you just invested time learning to build a Goal Tree but with limited benefits this time.

5. Reflect on the roadmap to close the gaps

The final step of the process, and fifth reason to build this Goal Tree, is to reflect what your personal roadmap will be for closing the gaps, e.i. turning the red and amber NCs green. The Goal Tree itself will give you the timely sequence: you’ll have to start from bottom as those are the prerequisites for working your way up to your Goal.

However, your time and resources are (most probably) limited and some early successes are encouraging. Thus, you may select the easiest or fastest ones to green-up in a given branch of your Tree, for starting.


The Goal Tree used to get clarity on my career and personal objectives as well as on my strengths and weaknesses was of great help. Even so I did not discover anything extraordinary, it helped set my ideas in order. It also helped to feed other tools I used to ponder the opportunity to move.

I then thought that the Goal Tree could help others, maybe you, to get the same clarity and confidence about what to do before leaping to the next job.

I hope it will, and if it does or if you find value in this post, let me know through like and/or comment.

About the author, Chris Hohmann

About the author, Chris Hohmann

View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

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