The start of a New Year can become a great time for reflection and looking to the future. January is a great time to set goals that you want to achieve, especially when it comes to your career. Setting career goals can help you plan for your future while helping you focus on your development. For those people feeling stuck in their careers, this is your opportunity to plan a roadmap to make a change. For others, goal-setting is a great way to show your ambition and can leave a favorable impression. 

Here are some tips for setting your career goals that can help you decide how you want to make a difference!

What’s Important to You? 

Set career goals based on your personal beliefs, wants, and needs. Your goals should not be reliant on anyone or looking to follow in someone else’s footsteps. Ask yourself “What is important to me?” Try to imagine what you want from your career. Words such as success, fulfillment, security, friendship, credibility, and recognition may come to mind. These values can help you develop a goal that you want to achieve and a principle that you can live by.  

Small Steps to Success 

Thinking of your end goal and how to get there can be overwhelming. Breaking down your goal into short-term goals can make your ultimate goal seem more realistic to attain and prevent any procrastination. Smaller action steps should be practical and achievable so that these new skills can turn into habits that you can accomplish. For example, if your ultimate goal is to earn a promotion, your short-term goals could be attending a certificate course or seminars that will work towards improving your performance. These smaller steps will make it easier for you to concentrate on accomplishing your goal. 

An Accountability System 

The only way for you to know you’re making progress in your goals is to track your progress. Holding yourself accountable through your tracking will help you outline what you want to achieve and how you want to reach it. There are three ways you can track your progress. It is easiest to document your goals on paper in a planner or journal. For the more tech-savvy, you can download a productivity or goal-setting app that will track your progress and set reminders on how you can further your development. Lastly, set your goal with a friend or loved one. Not only can they support you in trying to achieve your goals, but they can also provide you with inspiration and motivation as they share their own career experience. Together you can share your successes and hold each other accountable for your career progress. 

Dream Big, But Keep It Realistic! 

Setting a realistic career goal can be a bitter pill to swallow. Sure, you may dream of becoming your company’s CFO by next year. But if you’re still in an entry-level position, reaching that goal in that period may just be a fantasy. Yes, a challenge can light a fire in some of us, but a reexamination of your timeline may show you that, realistically, you need to build more knowledge and skills to reach your desired goal. Your ultimate career goal maybe three to five years away, but setting an attainable plan on how you can gain additional experience and skills sets yourself up for a higher chance of success. 

Be Open to Flexibility 

Very few people have the luxury of having a straight-line path to success. Career goals should be specific while giving you enough space to change course when new opportunities or ideologies come your way. Maybe what you want now is not what you want in five years. Reflect on what you want and what you hope to become. As you work your way to your goal, be open to any possibilities that may come your way.

Just remember, you can set career goals anytime. They serve as a framework to define and achieve milestones. All of us can dream of where we want to be in our careers, but getting there is not as easy. Setting your career goals provides you with a strategy for how to achieve them. 

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