The new year brings something that’s truly incomparable. It creates a time for reflection, gives a sense of a mental refresh, and shows that some goals are not best served cold. It’s a reminder that you need to design a plan that helps you consciously move forward and closer to any career goals you want to accomplish.
You’re probably thinking, “Well…it’s kinda cliché that January 1st is the ‘I’m ready to do literally everything‘ holiday,” but the truth is, overcommitting is not the best strategy to helping you make the most of your career this year. Making the most of your career in 2020 will require strategic planning and execution. That said, please allow me to provide an outline to help you get to that next step—and eventually do literally everything (yes, everything) on your goal list.
1. Prepare for success.
The first, and most important, thing you’ll want to do is set aside some dedicated time to devise your plan. Choose a time and place that brings you peace and is a distraction-free zone. I like to go to a coffee shop or Barnes & Noble on a late morning, early-afternoon. Next, gather as much information about last year’s career performance as you can. For example, how much were you making, what were your job responsibilities, biggest highlights, projects you loved, projects you hated, projects you were excited to start but ran out of time, etc. Collect as much as you can before you dash off to the coffee shop.
2. Decide on your timeline.
Based on your personal situation, it may be ideal to set goals for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months. If you work with a larger team or organization and things move at a slower pace, you might find it best to choose 9 or 12 months for your timeline. If you work for yourself and have a majority of control over your daily routine and tasks, maybe set those goals for 3 or 6 months.
3. Think outside the box.
Without overthinking about the logistics and small details, jot down all the things you want to do within your career this year: Are you hoping to find a new job? Do you want to land a gig at a company you’ve dreamed of working with for a long time? Do you want to make a major move? What about starting a cool side-hustle or working towards getting a big promotion? Whatever it is, write it down (and don’t delete it)!
4. Determine your non-negotiables.
Your non-negotiables are the things you’re firmly against doing or experiencing in order to obtain your goals. Ask yourself, “What are the things I no longer want to deal with in the future?” Maybe you’re going to stop making excuses for why you’re not checking in with your boss a little more frequently. Or, you’re no longer agreeing to adding more projects to your plate than you can handle.
Another example is not following up with potential employers because it makes you a bit uncomfortable or nervous. Even getting your savings account in a good state is a good example. You don’t want another year to pass where you’re not building an active savings fund. Whatever the case may be, take time see what areas, relationships, habits, and more need to be deleted in the new year.
5. Unveil your strategy.
As mentioned earlier on, a strategy is fundamental in order to accomplish goals. This isn’t just some rule that applies to top-level executives or entrepreneurs. You, too, can treat your career like your personal business endeavor. Based on the goals and desired outcomes you want to reach, how will you exactly get there?
We can use the example of having a goal to transition your career. You want to move from accounting to entertainment media. What’s your strategy for making that move? Are there any new skills you need to learn? Build a new resume? Do you need to create an online platform that shows you’re knowledge/talent in entertainment media?
Your strategy should be clear, attainable, and include as many task deadlines as needed to make it happen.
6. Examine the past and fine-tune your mindset.
As you are putting together the details of your strategy, remind yourself of past wins and failures as they relate to your blueprint and narrow down your list of goals. What areas were really challenging in the past? What previous action plans didn’t work? Consider your past performances to help sift through your strategy.
At this point, you should have more precision around what you want to work towards in 2020, as well as how and why. But most importantly, you have to place yourself in the right mindset because, well, that matters… more than just about anything. Cultivating the right mindset and being gentle & kind to yourself along the journey of achieving these goals will get you to the finish line—and definitely way beyond where your inner critic can take you.