The New Year is a time for reflection and resolution. It provides a good starting point for re-thinking work goals and, in turn, energizing a career while also working toward personal development. How best to hit the ground running in 2021 to expand career and personal horizons at the beginning of another revolution around the sun?
Know how to set goals
The first step in establishing career goals for 2021 is reflecting on achievements for the goals set in 2020.
Don’t be overly self-congratulatory and lose sight of the fact that many external events have a bearing on goal outcomes. At the same time, don’t dwell on failures. Objectivity makes it easier to establish new goals more realistically. The more realistic the goal, the greater the likelihood of success.
In setting goals for 2021, be careful not to put too many mileposts on the list. The daily grind of work may affect the time and energy that are necessary for achieving them. Prepare measurable goals that include short-term, perhaps monthly, targets that may help make longer-term career objectives more manageable.
Career goals, strictly speaking
Three broad areas related to work could be on any goal-setting agenda for the New Year. How can you make them happen?
Request (and get) a raise or promotion
Before talking with management about a raise or promotion, prepare a list of daily responsibilities and whether you’ve been successful at meeting them regularly. Also list areas where you’ve done more than expected, including the value you’ve added to project teamwork. Gather performance review examples to check out how management evaluates execution and accomplishments, as well as check previous reviews to determine whether you’ve addressed areas for improvement or received any commendations for work.
Seek a position with another company
Consider whether it’s time to move on to a company that offers better career opportunities or more rewarding or dynamic work challenges. If personal skill sets are moving beyond what your current company needs, decide whether to test new marketplace waters to broaden horizons for career accomplishments and fulfillment. Research companies that have a need for those responsibilities, learn how to craft a cold email to request an interview, prepare a fully updated resume, and establish an online profile.
Expand networking outreach
It’s imperative to broaden outside contacts to expand not only the range of career opportunities but also to connect with individuals who may be invaluable sources of information about work-life balance, career education, and employment opportunities. Online networking sites for business professionals are important, and a variety are available for interacting with like-minded individuals on similar career paths. Remember the effectiveness of face-to-face contact, as well.
Improve work-life balance
Achieving goals requires clear thinking and stamina, and a sense of inner peace. Address issues that may cause stress, which can have a profound effect on a person’s health and emotional well-being.
Use the physical to control the mental
Stress levels may stem from the natural work ethic of people who are driven to succeed. Mayo Clinic suggests four activities that may help relieve self-imposed stress:
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga
- Socializing with family and friends
- Setting aside time for hobbies
Manage worktime more effectively
Reflect on whether work tasks are requiring more time than necessary. If so, think of creating daily to-do lists to stay on track with task work, or take time in the evening to lay out task work for the next day. Check out several other time-management tips as well.
Take some time off
Digital technology combines with the global marketplace to extend the workday for many people. When possible, squeeze in some extra hours to get tasks done early, and then use those extra hours to leave work early on certain days or to take a three-day weekend.
Maintain a positive attitude
Enthusiasm and optimism are emotional replacements for stress. Keeping a sense of humor, practicing gratitude and kindness, and engaging in inner dialogue that is constructive are ways to stay energized toward career goals. A positive attitude is also contagious. Upper management will take note.
It’s easy to start off strong in the New Year, sticking to resolutions with the sheer energy of new ways of doing things. As the regular work grind sets in early in the New Year, and time constraints and fatigue set in, it’s also easy to lose momentum. Keeping goals realistic and prioritizing objectives selectively at the start is one way to maintain motivation. Another is to post-date milestone markers and reminders on desk calendars and planners.
Starting 2021 with a bang requires looking outward and inward and meshing both perspectives to set both short- and long-term work goals. Achieving this year’s goals sets the stage for an entire career game plan replete with monetary rewards and self-fulfillment.