As the end of 2017 approaches, many of us are reflecting on the last year and looking for ways to improve in 2018. So many people use January 1st as a marker for significant change in their personal and professional life and create New Year’s Resolutions to achieve these goals.
The problem is, these goals are often high-level and aren’t broken down in a manageable way that makes them achievable (aka SMART goals). For example, say one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to lose weight. This is a great goal to have, but how exactly will you achieve it? Will you exercise three times per week? Start a meal plan? Hire a personal trainer? As you can see, there are a lot of ways to achieve this goal. However, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t take the necessary steps to make it happen.
The same goes with your professional life. If you want to find a new job in 2018, you can’t just hope for the best, you have to put in the work to get it.
With that in mind, we asked our career experts to share their tips on how to achieve your career goals in 2018 and make it your best professional year yet!
To understand where you want to go, it’s important to look back on where you have been.
“Reflecting on what happened in 2017 is crucial if you want to be able to envision what 2018 could look like,” explains career coach Bénédicte Flouriot. “Setting up some time and space for evaluating what happened: What was great about 2017? What are the key moments of 2017? If I could change something, what would I have done differently? What do I want for 2018? What’s negotiable and what’s not.”
Career coach Mary Kruger agrees. “When thinking about goals for 2018 it can be overwhelming. I suggest you set some time aside to think about what is really important to you. Think in terms of the various areas of your life: career, health, family, friends, spirituality, finances, recreation, professional development, physical environment and significant other or relationships. Try setting 1-2 goals in each area.”
“If time and money weren’t a problem, what is it you’d like build or create or take on? Visualize it!” advises career coach Lisa Pachence. “Sit with yourself in a quiet area and close your eyes or write it out using stream of consciousness or create a visual (Vision Board enthusiasts, here’s where you shine). It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t have a clear, obvious, attractive end result in mind.”
Bénédicte is also a fan of visualization. “Creating a visual board can help, it’s a very powerful mind exercise to help shape what you would like to see in 2018, when it can sometimes be difficult to articulate. There are a lot of websites and apps that offer the possibility to create a visual board online at no charge.”
Using tools like career and personality assessments and the wheel of life are a great way to evaluate your strengths, values and interests and figure out how they can translate into your professional life.
“Getting very clear on your personal foundation of strengths, values and priorities and how those relate to your role at work (or the role you want),” explains career coach Sally Anne Giedrys. “That not only helps you to make meaningful career choices, but also helps develop your confidence, personal brand and natural motivation. I encourage and work with clients to take assessments such as VIA and Strengths Profile, for example, and integrate those into how they show up at work and home.”
“Set goals that are clearly tied to a larger vision of your life (not just your career) that inspires you and is also clearly tied to your values (i.e., what is important and non-negotiable for you),” says Sally. “Having a bigger vision of how you want to live and work and the impacts you want to make is a huge help in making the right choices for your career and a critical step in achieving true work-life balance (or integration for those who are allergic to the word balance).”
Instead of spreading yourself thin and making false over-the-top promises to yourself in the New Year, create tangible goals and follow through with them.
Sally Anne Giedrys suggests you ditch all of the resolutions in favor of simple commitment. “What I mean by this is a 3-part plan that is based on decision-making. Decide what you really want. Decide to commit to that. Decide to act. I call this “starting strong, staying sustainable and showing up”. If you’re unhappy at work, commit to change that. If you feel you’re ready to move up, decide that you will pursue those opportunities. I wrote about this in detail here. ”
Career coach Lisa Pachence says that one way to achieve career success in the new year is to shift your thinking about your current situation and look at things on the brighter side.
“First, you need to shift your perspective. Things aren’t so bad!” she says. “Even if we want things to be different, it’s necessary to start by being grateful for what you have. Otherwise, changing careers or jobs will just be a quick fix to a situational problem that will likely follow you elsewhere (eg, “why do I always get a crappy boss?”).”
Lisa Pachence says that, in order to achieve your goals, you have to plan it out with the end in mind.
“Reverse engineer the vision. If you want to make $100k, then what are the milestones to get there?” she says. “Get a new certification or take a course in negotiating salary or research side hustles to add income OR learn how to amplify your business using social media. Then, map out the action items needed for each milestone. Make it so easy for yourself that you can’t NOT take the next steps.”
When you begin working towards your goals, go slow and take things one step at a time.
“This is the most important piece. In our high demand, immediate returns type of culture, we often want change and the perfect life or career NOW. And if it doesn’t happen quickly, then we get resigned and fall back in old patterns,” Lisa explains. “Remember that slow motion is better than no motion! And this is about forming new habits of success and change, which typically take longer than we like them to.”
Sally suggests that you focus on one goal at any given time. “Limit yourself to one big goal per quarter. Set a big goal. Focus on that. Complete it. Then tackle another one. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you dial in your attention and resources in this way.”
“To stay on track with your goals select a few to focus on at first. Avoid trying to change everything all at once! Think about what you really want in life,” Mary adds.
Investing in yourself and your professional growth is another great way to achieve success in the new year – whether that be through purchasing a couple of books on leadership, taking a night course or hiring a career coach.
“By this I mean investing in your own personal development and ability to be the leader of your life,” Sally explains. “The best investment that anyone can make is in their own mental health, physical health and knowledge— and that always impacts their career. Personal leadership is the first step to leading teams, leading others, leading ideas and leading organizations. (Hiring a coach is a great way to do this, of course).”
Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you achieve your goals in 2018? Connect with any of the coaches by clicking on their name or visit our website and browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!
Kristen is the editor and community manager at Noomii.com and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen on Twitter and LinkedIn.