Everybody starts the year off with a list of New Year’s resolutions — which are nearly all abandoned or forgotten by February. This year, keep that January motivation fresh in your mind by adding your resolutions to your work calendar now. Here are some suggestions from career experts about what goals to set for 2014.
Make a “greatest hits” list. “Everyone should take time at the beginning of every year to take stock of what they accomplished the prior year… and put those into writing in a resume-like fashion,” says Monique A. Honaman, CEO and partner at ISHR Group. “It’s much easier to have all of this information ready to go when you need it as opposed to having to create a resume from scratch and remember what you have accomplished for the past 10 years.”
Establish one big goal. “We frequently spend more time hammering out the daily demands of life such that we forget to focus on the big picture,” Honaman says. “Everyone should set at least one goal of something major that they want to accomplish for their career each year.” Carve out time for yourself, just as you would for any other appointment, to work on your big-picture goal each week, she advises.
Seek out advice. “Find a trusted mentor who can help guide you towards your goals with a dash of realism about how to navigate the waters ahead,” says Joseph Weintraub,a professor of management and director of the Babson Coaching for Leadership and Teamwork Program at Babson College. Even if you think you know the ropes, somebody more seasoned could give you advice about navigating your company’s higher-up office politics. Weintraub says this person can be someone at your company, or someone highly-regarded in your industry who knows the unwritten as well as the written rules.
Set progress benchmarks. “Set stretch goals but don’t bite off more than you can chew,” says Roy Cohen, career counselor and executive coach. To keep your big idea manageable, come up with a few smaller goals that will help you accomplish your big achievement. Taking a class, earning a certification or writing an article for an industry publication could all be stops on the way to your final destination that will help build momentum towards it, Cohen says.
Do a quarterly check-up. “As is the case with quarterly performance reviews in organizations, take the time to do the reflection of where you are in accomplishing your resolutions by doing your own internal audit in your scheduling calendar by setting up a look at your resolutions every three months,” Weintraub says.
Do a mid-year network check. “Ask yourself at the mid-year point, who have I connected with this year?” Honaman says. You don’t want to be that guy or gal who gets a reputation for only getting in touch if you need a favor, she says. “Make the investment, and sustain your investment, by building a valuable network. If and when you do need to reach out, the connection is not cold.”
Acquire new tech skills. “Learn how to better use technology to support all aspects of your job search,” Cohen says. “The down-time around the holidays is great for coming up to speed on new technology applications or skills that need to be strengthened.” Figure out your weak spots, then find classes, books or tutorials where you can learn or brush up on the skills you need to move forward.
Take stock of your accomplishments. At the end of the year, give yourself a personal performance review — and since you’re not sharing it with anyone, don’t dodge the mistakes and missteps you made during the year. “Be realistic in what you have done and not done towards moving towards your resolutions. Often failure along the way brings the biggest learning,” says Weintraub. “The key is to learn from past mistakes,” he says, by figuring out what you need to do differently the next time around.