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Setting (and Achieving!) Your Professional Goals in the New Year

The New Year is officially here, and by now you’ve probably thought of a few changes you’d like to make in your personal and professional life. Everyone loves the allure of a fresh start and many of us hope to end next year with more successes than in years past. But, as we all know, good intentions can get lost in the shuffle of our busy everyday lives. Achieving goals and New Year’s resolutions in the workplace can be especially difficult without forming a plan and strategy to tackle them. So, here are our top tips to make this year your most successful one yet: 

  • Invest in yourself and commit to advancing in your career, whatever that means for you. The first step is determining your short and long-term career goals. Is your goal to remain in your current job? To advance in your organization? Or, move on to somewhere new? Articulate your aspirations - whatever they may be! Whether that means mastering a current role, gaining new responsibilities, getting promoted, or moving on to a new job or industry entirely. Articulate that goal and then make the conscious decision to commit to yourself and to your success.  

  • Decide ‘how’ you are going to achieve your next goal and make a plan! What are the next steps you will need to accomplish before achieving your ultimate goal? If you are unsure, research some ideas, reach out to managers or relevant professionals in your field for advice, or schedule professional development trainings for yourself. For example, if your goal is to get promoted, find out how others have been successful in your organization or industry. You may need to take a course, pass a certification exam, or take on a larger project to work toward your ultimate goal. 

Most importantly, though, don’t underestimate the power of writing out a thorough plan. Experts in the art of goal setting have found that those who simply write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. Write out specific milestones, specific dates by which to achieve them (“My goal is to increase my sales by X dollars by May 1st”), and then write out how you plan to get there. 

Set yourself up for success by keeping your goals front and center – literally. Place them in a visible, central location, where you will have a daily reminder of your goals. Also, don’t be afraid to share your goals with a trusted colleague or anyone who can both hold you accountable and provide support; invite others to share their goals with you, so you can reciprocate! 

  • Take ownership of your happiness at work and your workplace relationships. Improving our relationships at work can help us enjoy our jobs more and also increase our effectiveness and productivity. In fact, regardless of industry, positive workplace relationships may be the number one factor in your career success. Perhaps this means learning how to deal with a difficult boss. Take the time to understand your boss’ personality and communication style, to better interact with them professionally. Does she have a more introverted and reflective personality and prefer written communication? Take a cue to stop barging into her office uninvited! Make a habit of learning the preferences of others and you will have better relationships at work. Master the art of managing up, down and across in all your workplace relationships. 

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for honest feedback. Many people wait until an end-of-year evaluation to seek out feedback, but it can be more productive to ask regularly throughout the year, before a manager forgets! Request feedback from both colleagues and leaders. Receiving regular feedback will help you reflect honestly on your strengths and shortcomings, and focus your goals on the areas you can improve in.  

Small consistent choices and actions add up. Doing the same thing you have always done will only bring you what you have. If you want something different, then you must be and act differently! If your goal is to speak up more inside of your organization, perhaps you can start by raising a valid concern at your next meeting. If your goal is to get more involved in your workplace’s social scene, begin by offering to start a book club with your team or department, reading a book relevant to your field. Either way, take it one day at a time, have fun, and good luck! 

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