New Year, New Career Goals
I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to welcome a new year in my life. Lately I have been thinking about my own personal goals for 2021, because 2020 sure brought a lot of challenges.
January is a big month for setting career goals, personal goals, and New Year’s Resolutions. As we move towards new beginnings, people are inspired to set new goals for the year, both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, a lot of times these resolutions don’t last. Take the gym, in the “before times,” January was the busiest month at the gyms. Waiting 20 minutes to get a treadmill, lots of new faces, long lines, and the best of intentions. Come March, the buzz has gone, classes have shrunk, and you can take your time without feeling rushed.
We have a few different tricks to help you stick to your goals, so they don’t get ignored come March. You probably already have a career goal in mind, it could be a completely new role, changing industries, a horizontal move in a company, or maybe a promotion. While you might not know how exactly to get there, you probably have some idea of what you want to do.
For some people, it helps to start with your big-picture goal. Especially now, it can help to life your head above the clouds and look to the long term. Picture the job you want to retire from and imagine what that looks like and where you’d like to be. Are you running your own business? A C-Level executive? Maybe you are a technical expert. It could be that your goal is to be in a comfortable position that allows you the flexibility to focus on other life priorities. Whatever that goal is, envision your future self in that role. It’s okay if it seems far away or ambitious, and it’s okay if this goal changes over time.
The big picture method allows you to set long, mid and short-term goals to help you achieve that ultimate goal. By working backward, you’re able to identify more and more tangible things that you can do to move towards that outcome. The long-term goals you set should look at what you need to accomplish in the next ten years to make progress towards the big goal. From there, you can place 2-5-year mid-term goals and dive deeper to set up goals for the next six months to a year. Ask yourself what three to five things can you achieve in the next year to help you accomplish those mid-term goals.
Still Deciding What You Want to Be?
If the thought of trying to picture yourself at the end of your career terrifies you, that’s fine too. It’s not uncommon for people to change jobs, industries or career paths multiple times in their life. Instead, focus on the next two to five years for your career. Are you a recent graduate looking to break into a field? Maybe you feel stuck where you’re at and want to move forward. Imagine what that looks like and set some mid-range goals around those ideas. Then build some more tangible shorter term goals to help you get there.
Short Term Goals
Your short-term career goals are where you want to focus most of your attention. These are the things you can accomplish this year to move your career forward. One way to help develop these goals is to use the SMART goal methodology. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. When your goals encompass these components, they become much more actionable. Phrasing your goals in this way gives you a solid plan on how to approach and move forward to accomplish them.
Think of your goals as living documents. Goals are flexible and you get to make updates as your priorities change. If you find that you want to change directions mid-way through, revisit your career goals to adust or replace them with your new targets.
Write Your Career Goals Down
It’s not enough to just come up with career goals at a major transition point in your life. After you’ve gone through all of the work of coming up with SMART goals, don’t hide them away in the corner of your mind or desk drawer. Just by writing the goals down, you’re more likely to achieve them. A psychology study by Dr. Gail Matthews out of the Dominican University of California found that students who wrote down their goals and provided weekly status updates to accountability buddies were much more likely to achieve them. While only 43% of the students who simply wrote down their goals had either accomplished or were over halfway to meeting them, 76% of the students providing the updates had either accomplished or had made significant progress towards completion.
Need Some Help?
If you need some help with making progress towards your career goals, we can help. Sound Interview Professionals can help you polish your resume and develop your brand. We offer custom coaching to help you accelerate your career. To learn more, visit our career services page, or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.