by Maddi Butler
Published on: Dec 16, 2020
Though the days are still dark and cold the onset of a new calendar year marks January as a time of beginning. For many people, this makes the end of December the perfect time to reflect on lessons learned throughout the year, as well as a time to set intentions for the next year.
While it’s most common to make your New Year’s resolution a personal goal—maybe learning a new hobby or recommitting to an exercise routine—the new year is also a great time to think about your career goals. If you’ve never set a career goal before, maybe this is the year to start.
If career goals aren’t something you’ve thought about before or something you haven’t thought about in a while, you might not know where to start, though. Arguably, the most important consideration is setting a realistic goal. You wouldn’t pick up a cello for the first time and expect to become a pro-level player in six months. Similarly, barring some truly extraordinary and unlikely circumstances, it isn’t realistic to go from an entry-level position to CEO of a company over the course of a year.
That said, whatever goals you set should provide some challenge. After all, goals exist in part to encourage self-betterment. One of the best ways to begin this process is by first clarifying your overall career goals. To do so, you can start by asking yourself where you’d ultimately like to end up in your career. Are you working toward a more senior position? Are you happy in your field, or do you feel called to something else?
Thinking about these long-term goals will allow you to focus on what actions you need to take to achieve them. And if you’re not sure, do your research. What did it take for others in your “dream job” to reach that position? There may be opportunities to volunteer, take classes, or attend a seminar that can bring you closer to that eventual goal. Part of this research can also include seeking constructive feedback from managers or peers. What are you doing well? What can you do better?
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that not everything will go as planned. You may start on any one of those action items mentioned above, only to find that you’ve stretched yourself too thin or you’re not enjoying the topic as much as you thought you would. Being adaptable is a valuable trait in pretty much any profession, and it’ll be just as valuable as you figure out how to navigate pursuing and reaching your goals.