A new year is a great time to reflect on the previous professional year, and consider how to progress. After the enormous upheaval of 2020, we have a particularly rare opportunity to see our goals, plans, relationships and trajectories from a fresh perspective. Here at CareerWise, we are experts in helping clients get where they want to be in the workplace. From assessing your current position, to creating an action plan even in these uncertain times, here is our guide to professional goal setting for 2021.
Review Your Professional Year
If you’ve ever felt stuck in your job, you’ll know it can seem impossible to move forward. In this situation, it is vitally important to make a realistic assessment of your position, in order to work out how things could improve. Consider the past professional year carefully. Here are some tips for making a useful analysis:
What were your biggest achievements?
It can be tempting to focus on the negatives, but identifying your biggest achievements and those things you enjoyed the most can be a powerful way to see which direction you are headed in. Make a list of these positives, in all areas of your life, not just the working world. Perhaps you took up a new hobby that could feed in to your career goals; or received recognition for an area of work you had previously paid little attention to. The ways in which others see us and our achievements can give us powerful clues about our potential in the workplace.
What new discoveries did you make?
Perhaps you didn’t like working from home, or perhaps you found that the freedom has given you the confidence to consider taking a leap into the unknown. Think about how your time was used – did it serve your wider career goals, or were you constantly sidetracked?
Which areas needed more work?
Be honest. Sometimes a clear view of our own weaknesses can be the most powerful factor in making future decisions.
What is coming in the months ahead?
What important meetings and deadlines are already in the diary? Do these reinforce your career path, or are they leading you in another direction?
Once you have established where you stand, the next step is to form professional goals that will help you towards fulfilling your career ambitions. Professional goals have clear, quantifiable outcomes, so include specific measures and dates, for instance, “I will be promoted to managerial level in the next review in November 2021”.
First, decide where you would like to be by the end of 2021.
Then work backwards – how can you achieve these aims? Decide on concrete actions you can take – whether this is an extra training course or taking on a project that will boost your CV. Bear in mind that if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the best laid plans can be derailed, and it’s always worth having alternate options up your sleeve.
Analyse your productivity.
Make a list of actions you could cease to do, that would save you time and enable you to focus on your goals. This could be simple things, like decreasing the amount of time you spend scrolling on your phone (there are apps to help with this!); or learning to delegate less relevant tasks.
Look at an overview calendar for your whole year, and schedule in all the important dates you can. Also schedule in any repeated tasks now – this will establish a regular routine, and save you time in the long term. Don’t forget to carve out time for holidays and your personal life too – this is much easier to do at the start of a fresh year with the blank page before you. Making sure you have a good work – life balance will not only make you feel great, it will ensure you can bring your full attention to the job when you are at work, making your goals that much more attainable. Professional goals may be concerned with your work, but remember your career is important because of the role it plays in your life overall.
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