It’s that time of year again… New Year’s resolution season. The time to think about how you want to make 2021 better than 2020 (lots of ways, we know). Even if you’re not typically someone who sets resolutions, the start of the year is an opportunity to reflect on the past, think about what your goals are, and consider different ways to achieve them.
Continue reading below for a few 2021 goal ideas and tips for setting and achieving your career goals this year.
Goals aren’t worthwhile unless they’re achievable and actionable. If you can’t take action to make it happen, you should reconsider the goal you’re setting. There’s one goal-setting framework - SMART goals - that makes it easy to set a goal and achieve it.
There are 5 parts to a SMART goal:
S - Specific
A goal needs to be specific, so you know what you’re working towards and can build your path to success. You should think about the Who, What, When, Which, and Why of the goal to identify if there are other people needed to help you reach it, know exactly what the end goal is and when you want to reach it, which obstacles may stand in your path and how you will tackle them, and why the goal matters to you. If it doesn’t matter to you, and if you’re not driven to achieve it, it will be difficult to stay motivated.
M - Measurable
Setting an easily measurable goal is critical so you know when you’ve reached it! It’s the difference between “My goal is to be better at budgeting” and “My goal is to create a budget and stick to it, so I can put $50 in my savings account each month.” With the first, you don’t really define what “better” means - so how do you know if you’ve reached the goal? With the second, you can easily track your success.
A - Achievable
Sometimes, people set unrealistic goals because they’re inspirational. In reality, continuously working towards something you can’t achieve often isn’t inspiring - it’s demoralizing. When you can’t (or feel like you can’t) reach your goals, it becomes easy to quit working towards them. Set a goal that you can achieve, and break up larger goals into smaller milestones so you can identify and celebrate your progress along the way.
R - Relevant
A relevant goal will keep you progressing down the larger career path you’ve chosen or want to be on. Ask yourself a few questions:
If you can answer “yes” to all four of the questions above, your goal is relevant.
T - Time-Bound.
There needs to be a time limit to keep you motivated and working towards your goal. Is it this year? This quarter? Before your birthday, before your work’s busy season, or before your yearly review? As you’re setting your goal, be sure to think about when you want to accomplish it and set a reasonable time limit for yourself.
Moving on to the good stuff… it’s time to think about what goals matter to you! Consider what will help you build your career, improve your performance, or be happier at work. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Find a new job.
Sometimes, it’s just time for something new! When you’re writing your goal think about why you want the new job and what actions you need to take to get there. Your SMART goal might look something like this:
Learn a new skill.
New skills can help you improve at your current job or break into a new line of work! When you’re writing your goal, think about why you want to learn this skill and how you’re going to learn it. Your SMART goal might look something like this:
Earn a promotion.
In order to earn a promotion, you should focus on exceeding the goals or metrics for your current position, bringing a positive attitude to work, and finding the right opportunity to show how you’ll add additional value in a new role. When you’re writing your goal, think about how you’ll improve your work performance and when the right time will be to ask to be promoted. Your SMART goal might look something like this:
Improve a soft skill.
Soft skills, like time management, teamwork, and communication, can be really important for your career. Your soft skills help you interview well for jobs, impress your boss, and even move up at your company. When you’re writing your goal, pick a specific soft skill to focus on and focus on clear steps you can take to improve.
Your goals don’t have to be huge to make an impact. The most important part is just getting started - setting a goal and working towards it. Happy New Year - and happy goal setting!
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