How To Create Career Goals You’ll Stick to In the New Year

As this year (and this decade) comes to a close, a lot of people are taking a personal inventory of their accomplishments and looking forward to future achievements. What have you done in your career that you’re proud of so far? How would you like your career to progress over the next year? These are important questions to ask as you set new career goals. And, if you’re not always the type to stick with your career goals, these 6 tips can help you turn that around in 2020.

1. Write them Down & Keep Track: This is an essential step if you actually want to stick to any of your goals. Write your career goals for the New Year down and put them in a visible place, somewhere you know you’ll see them every workday, ideally multiple times a day. It might also be helpful to have some form of accountability system like calendar alerts reminding you to stay on track or a journal where you track your progress with your career goals. Keep these things front and center in your eye line at work all year long and it will be nearly impossible to ignore your career goals.

2. Break Large Goals into Small, Actionable Steps: If you’re at all ambitious about your career goals—and you really should be—chances are you’re aiming for huge milestones. While this ambition is excellent, it can also be a little overwhelming. Aiming towards one or two big goals through the year is great, but in order to keep track of your progress and actually stick to achieving these larger goals, you need to break them down into small, actionable steps you can regularly accomplish. For example, if your goal is to get a promotion to a Team Lead in the next year, that’s great! You can break that down into several categories: the skills you need to learn to be successful in this position, the opportunity you need to identify at your current company or at a new job at an outside organization, the professionalism you need to hone to be the best candidate for the job, and the experience you need to gather to prove you can do it well. Each of these categories then has subcategories. Break things down into daily and weekly steps you can take to achieve your goal before the end of the year, then stick to the plan.

3. Adopt a Positive Mindset: If you don’t actually believe you can achieve the career goals you’ve set for the new year, you’ve either got an unrealistic set of goals or a negative mindset clouding your vision. Both will derail your progress, so make sure you’ve got a positive mindset! Optimism, believe it or not, is a thing you can cultivate. Find something to inspire you each morning and get your day off to the best start possible. Make a list of all the achievements you’re proud of and all of the skills you have so you know how awesome you are. And, if you’ve already got the positive mindset covered but still don’t feel like your career goals are realistic, pare them down and adjust them as needed. If you want to stick to your career goals this year, you need to truly believe you can achieve them.

4. Find Fruitful Rewards for Your Progress: You’re working hard to achieve those goals, don’t sell yourself short and don’t let your hard work go unrewarded. Little rewards and treats along the way—as long as they’re planned and doled out once actual progress has been made only—can keep you on the right track. This can be as simple as a coffee from your favorite fancier coffee shop on Friday mornings after sticking with your goal plan all week or as lavish as a well-earned vacation after finally locking in the promotion you’ve been working towards. You know yourself best so you know which rewards, both large and small, will feel the most rewarding to you.

5. Set Up Quarterly Goal Check-in Dates Now: As determined as you are to stay on track now, things happen. Simple projects can spiral into huge, complex undertakings. Life outside of work can knock you off of your productivity game. It’s okay! Use all of the motivation and ambition you have now to get a running head start on your career goals and set up quarterly goal check-in dates for yourself in your calendar, with alerts. You can even find a friend or coworker who wants to do the same, give them a list of your goals and then get together once a quarter to chart your progress and brainstorm ways of staying on track or getting back on track. You can also make these check-ins monthly if you feel like quarterly isn’t often enough.

6. Make Sure the Passion is There: If you’re not passionate about your job, you won’t be that eager to be successful. This can throw off your goal setting and definitely thwart your follow through. What brought you to this career in the first place? What do you love about your job? Try to center your goals—as many of them as you can—around the things you’re most passionate about at work. This will keep you on track through the year.

All of us at Camden Kelly hope you achieve your career goals in the New Year! Keep these tips handy throughout the course of the year so you can stay on track and achieve all of the career progress you’re hoping for in 2020.