Are you one of the many who get excited about starting a new year every December?
By the end of the year, it's common to feel stagnant. A fresh start is welcomed in the hopes that the New Year will be the best yet. That momentum starts to fade just a few months into the year, disappointment sets it, and the next countdown begins. This can be especially true when 80% of the day is spent at work, and our careers lose their luster.
The reboot you're looking for may be inspired by a lack of direction. We often set goals, meet them, and then forget to set new goals. We become content, stagnant, and then bored. Boredom produces negativity and dissatisfaction.
Instead of coming up with a New Year's Resolution, let's revive your career with a solid plan. Let's get to the root of the issue which is often a loss of focus and momentum. Let's make this your best year yet with a little planning, a little more action, and a lot of satisfaction.
1. Map Out Your Last Year (Or Two...)
The first rule of planning is to track your progress. Rather than doing this once in December, this should be done more regularly. For the sake of new beginnings, map out your last year or two. Identify your milestones and create a visual for your path over the year:
What challenges did you face?
What did you accomplish?
What moments made you smile?
What could you have done differently or better?
2. Have A Chat With A Mentor
A mentor can be a close family member or friend, a supervisor, or a senior co-worker. This person should be familiar with you both professionally and personally. For example, my mom has become a mentor to me because she's familiar with my goals, my passions, my weaknesses, and, because of her professional background, my work challenges.
Your mentor will have some insight that you may not have considered regarding your path over the last year and where to start when setting new goals. Asking for an outsider's perspective, especially from an outsider who is aware of your wants and concerns, is a great way to expand your perspective and get a little clarity.
3. Consider Your Lifestyle, Wants, and Needs
Before you start setting goals, you need to take a few things into consideration. You need to evaluate your lifestyle now, the lifestyle you want, your wants, and your needs.
What is your lifestyle like now?
Does your lifestyle give you joy?
What are your passions and hobbies?
What activities make you feel strong and confident?
What could you add or subtract from your life that will give you more joy?
Does your career align with the lifestyle that gives you joy?
When evaluating your wants and needs, keep your expectations realistic. Your needs may be met, but achieving your wants may require some sacrifice in other areas. Ask yourself:
What are my deal-breakers? For example, do you need a set schedule to accommodate your family obligations?
What would you consider "frosting?" In other words, what would be a nice bonus but you could certainly live without?
Your lifestyle is a HUGE factor that contributes to your goal setting and momentum. Don't overlook the importance of your life outside of the workplace when setting your career goals.
4. Identify A Few Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
Start by setting three long-term goals. What do you want to gain or achieve in the next five years? What do you want to do or accomplish? How do you want to improve in the next five years? For example:
I want to have $10,000 in my savings account.
I want to take a two-week trip to Australia.
I want to be promoted to a management position.
Once you have your long-term goals established, you will have an easier time creating short-term goals that get you closer to achieving your long-term goals. Consider what it will take for you to save $10,000 in the next five years. Will you need to create a tighter budget? Will you need to increase your income with a second job or higher paying position?
When some of your goals align (such as saving more money and a getting a promotion), you can streamline some of your short-term goals. Your short-term goals, or progress goals, should be easily achieved within a few months. Breaking down your long-term goals into progress goals may look like:
Limit leisure spending allowance to $100 each month
Budget for $170 each month for savings
Take business management class online
5. Decide On Your Next Steps
Once you have set a few short-term goals, give yourself a deadline and determine what your next steps are. Identify the specific actions that need to be taken to meet each progress goal. When you give yourself a deadline, you create momentum and greatly improve your chances of meeting those goals.
When budgeting $170 each month for savings, your actions could be:
Set up an automatic transfer of $85 to savings account for each paycheck.
Pack healthy lunch from home 3x each week.
Replace weekly "Girls Night Out" plans with a Netflix night.
6. Look Into Opportunities For Growth
Even with new goals in place, consider exploring opportunities for growth. Growth can come in many shapes and sizes. Your career may benefit from an online class, a new networking group, or a new life experience. Identifying skills that need strengthening can give you a sense of purpose and, ultimately, a sense of accomplishment too.
Growth in your career can result from additional education, training, networking, or empowerment. Consider taking a class at a local community college or online to broaden your skill sets or knowledge. Asking for additional training or mentorship at work can revive your motivation at work as well. Networking will not only expose you to different people but may also present opportunities that you may not have found elsewhere.
Taking on challenges in your personal life, such as conquering fears or trying something new, can also be empowering. Taking a vacation to another country, trying a new cuisine, or volunteering with an organization that exposes you to another lifestyle can broaden your perspective and enhance your life.
7. Track Your Progress Every 3 Months
The greatest pitfall to achieving goals is not tracking your progress. You set deadlines, so plan out when you will complete each action. Use a visual reminder of your progress to motivate you and keep you on track to achieving your goals. As you complete actions and progress goals, you will find yourself energized and your career revived with new purpose.