Taylor Tobin
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Many professionals set work-related goals for themselves right around the New Year. But like most other New Year’s resolutions, these lofty plans frequently taper off by the time February rolls around. 

But we’ve still got another full month left in Q1, which provides plenty of time to make plans for this first phase of the year and to take active steps to put them in motion. If you need a starting point, try these moves to make sure you have a successful year in your career. 

1. Make sure that your goals for the year are clearly defined during Q1.

A clear and workable game plan for the year is predicated on well-defined goals. If you know your desired endpoint, you can more effectively design a route leading you in that direction. During the first 3 months of 2019, allow yourself the time and opportunity to evaluate your work situation and to decide what changes you want to see over the course of the next 9 months. Write down your goals, and even if they seem overwhelming or unrealistic, try to come up with 3-5 immediate steps you can take to better position yourself to achieve them. 

For example, if you want to helm a major project by the end of 2019, plan to ask your manager for details before Q1 ends, do some research on your own, and draft a proposal. Even if your manager doesn’t start making concrete plans for the project until Q2, you’ll have your materials in order ahead of time and will be amply prepared to throw your hat into the ring when the time comes.

2. Reflect on your mistakes from the previous year, and devise a plan for improvement.

It’s a natural impulse to shrug off embarrassing or disappointing performance snafus in all aspects of our lives, and work certainly isn’t an exception. However, you’re better off looking critically at your own 2018 missteps and considering how you can upgrade your work quality in 2019. If your boss brought up specific weak spots during your end-of-year review, use those to motivate your improvement plan. But be careful to avoid vague, “I’ll do this eventually” self-assurances —  direct actions with a defined timeline will serve you better here. 

3. Open a clear path of communication between yourself and your boss.

Speaking of end-of-year reviews: these annual sit-downs with your boss should definitely not be the only chance for you to sit down with her and discuss your progress. Ideally, your boss would schedule regular check-in meetings with you. But if that’s not her style, you can and should take the initiative to request conversations with her. Start the pattern in Q1 by asking your boss for a 15-minute chat to talk through her plans for you and your team during this first phase of the calendar year. This meeting can also provide an excellent opportunity to mention the projects you’d like to take on, and to establish yourself as a goal-oriented employee eager to embrace more responsibility (and, therefore, a prime candidate for your boss’s trust).

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