With the New Year, comes the time for new goals. And since January 1 is now just over a week away, there is no time like the present to start setting career goals for 2017.
The problem is that setting goals can feel a bit overwhelming—and following through with them takes a great deal of motivation and commitment. To make the process a bit easier—and to make sure that you don’t fall off the wagon— we’ve outlined the steps you should take to set (and achieve) actionable career goals for the New Year.
- Determine What Matters to You
If you are job hunting or looking to change careers, first figure out what really matters to you. Because if you don’t care about what you do, in the end, it will show through (either in your attitude or your work performance…if not both) and the end result will likely be unfavorable. As my father always told me growing up, “do what you love and the money will follow.” It may sound trite, but the most successful people got to where they are now because they originally set out doing what they were passionate about.
What do you really care about? Do you want to help people and give back to society? Maybe consider working for a non-profit. Or perhaps you are passionate about helping businesses succeed, in which case you might want to consider a career in marketing. The list goes on. Write down a list of things that excite you and make you want to jump out of bed in the morning; then think about (and research, if need be) the types of careers that center around those things.
- Consider Your Strengths
What do you really excel at? Write down a list of things that you are good at (even if you can only come up with a few things) and then think about careers that require those strengths. We often underestimate our strengths. Remember, you don’t have to be the very best at something—what matters is that you are better than the majority of people.
Sometimes, though, the things we are good at may not be exactly what we want in a career. For instance, I love languages and consider linguistics to be one of my strong suits—but the idea of being a translator or interpreter (which many people have suggested to me over the years) has absolutely zero appeal to me, since I know that I want to be using more of the creative side of my brain. But being able to speak other languages on a daily basis while also exercising my creativity—now that sounds like something I would enjoy…
- Set SMART Goals
When you set your goals, you’ll want to make sure that they are:
- Specific – Outline what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by. For instance, instead of your goal being “get a job in 2017,” it would be far more beneficial for your goal to be “get a job as a Software Engineer at a small digital marketing agency in the U.S. by March of 2017.”
- Measurable – How will you know when the goal is complete? The goal “become a good marketer” is not measurable (nor specific) since “good” is an arbitrary, subjective term. A measurable goal would be “increase my website’s conversion rates by 50% within the next six months.”
- Attainable – Is your goal realistic? While it’s always good to stretch your limits, if you set your sights too high, you’re only likely to abandon ship soon after. If you are just starting out in your career, setting a goal to become Chief Marketing Officer within a year is simply not attainable.
- Relevant – Are your goals relevant to your current needs and situation? For example, learning how to code might not be a relevant goal if you are a designer.
- Time-specific – Set both long-term and short-term goals and determine exact dates for when you want to achieve your goals by.
- Establish Action Steps
Once your goals are defined, it’s time to determine action steps. How can you best achieve your goals? What types of strategies and plans do you have in mind to implement your goals? Do you envision any hurdles along the way? What types of resources or skills are needed to reach your goals?
If your goal is to land a job as a content marketer at a digital marketing agency in June of 2017, your action steps might be: apply to 10 jobs a day on websites like Linkedin and Indeed; attend one networking event per week; and make 20 cold calls a week to different digital marketing agencies around the country.
Don’t skip this step—Without action steps, a goal is useless.
You may want to become fluent in Spanish this year, but need to create a website for your business. You won’t be able to complete all of your goals at the same time (as much as you may want to!), so determine which ones should be prioritized and list them out in the order of their preferred completion date or importance.
- Write Down Your Goals
Write out your goals, along with the specific action steps for each goal, and post them in places where you will see them each day (like your bathroom mirror, bedroom walls and refrigerator). Being reminded on a daily basis of what you set out to achieve will help ensure your success.
- Stay Committed
Setting goals is the easy part—it’s staying committed that’s hard. According to promiseorpay.com, people are 33% more likely to succeed in their goals if they share them with other people. And people are 72% more likely to succeed if money is put out there.
Tell a friend or family member about your career goals and share updates on a weekly basis to ensure that you are completing your action steps and actively working to achieve your goals in a timely fashion.
There are also a number of websites out there (including promiseorpay.com), which allow the user to make a promise to follow through with a goal by a certain date; if that promise is not fulfilled, the user must donate a certain amount of money to charity or a friend.
So…now that you know the steps to take to create actionable career goals, it’s time to get started! Let’s let 2017 be the year of success.