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BY Fairygodboss

How to (Really, Truly, Actually) Stick to Your Career Goals this Year

By Fairygodboss

dog eating like human

Photo credit: Screen shot via YouTube (video: "Dog eating like human" by castorwolf97)

Happy New Year! Whether you’re hibernating after last night’s celebrations or you’re on a mission to have a productive first day of the year, we hope you’re taking a break from work today.

Either way, you’ve probably been doing some thinking about your career goals for this year...which sometimes seems pointless. Because another year down just means another year of neglected resolutions, right?

Wrong. We want to help you to actually make 2017 different. If this dog can learn to eat like a human, you can stick to your resolutions in 2017! Here’s how you’re going to do it:

Before you decide on your resolutions, think about your motivations for those goals. Oftentimes we almost mindlessly jot down a list of abstract things we want to accomplish. Get promoted, get a raise, find a new job…these are goals most everyone has in mind, at least at some point, because they are clear manifestations of progress in our careers.

But it’s crucial to understand your motivations before setting goals that are somewhat arbitrary. For example, perhaps you’d like to land a new job -- but is an entirely new gig really what you’re aiming for? Think first about whether you’d rather try to make a lateral move within your company.

If that doesn’t seem appealing, maybe there’s a goal you can set in your current job -- whether it involves a conversation with your boss or your direct reports, or whether it involves asking for a raise or promotion -- that would make you happier.  

Similarly, if you’re hoping for a raise or a promotion, take a minute to consider why. Are you feeling underappreciated or undervalued at work? Do you foresee the situation improving if you get a better title or paycheck? Maybe you do, but be honest with yourself -- the root of the problem might be deeper than compensation; maybe what you’re really looking for is a transition to a new company.

The bottom line is that you need to try to get to the heart of your desires in order to set goals that make sense and will motivate you. Because getting a raise isn’t going to solve everything if you really hate where you’re working -- and you want to strive for what will ultimately make you your happiest and best self.

Along the same lines, make sure you’re working toward something that’s manageable. It’s great to aim high, but realistically, you’re not going to become a CEO if you have one year of experience under your belt. If you start out the year by reaching for something that’s, well, completely out of your reach, you’re going to get discouraged, and in turn, probably less productive. So be ambitious and challenge yourself, but make sure to remain practical.

Once you figure out a sensible list of resolutions (or, hey, even just one resolution), make a plan to keep yourself on track....and Write. It. Down. You’re going to have a hard time staying committed to your long term goals if you don’t pace yourself with a timeline that includes some smaller steps that will help you get to the finish line.

Whether you manage your to-do list in a calendar on your phone or you like an old school pen and paper checklist, it helps to have visual reminders. Not to mention that physically checking off or marking your progress will help to keep you motivated.

For example, if you’re going to ask for a raise, you’ll first need to track and outline your success so that you have some concrete evidence that you deserve what you’re asking for. If you have emails or reports that highlight that you’ve been performing well, print those out and cross this step off your list. It will encourage you to move on to your next short-term goal, which might be doing research to figure out how much you should be asking for.

Anticipate setbacks and failure. Most of us make resolutions without pausing to think through what might happen if we fail. Don’t get us wrong -- we’re all for the glass-half-full-attitude -- but if you face a bit of rejection that you aren’t expecting, it could throw you totally off course. Don’t be pessimistic, but try to evaluate what obstacles you might face in trying to reach your goals. This way you’ll be better prepared to react appropriately if something does thwart your progress.

Follow these steps and rest assured that this is the year when you’re really going to make things happen.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
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