Setting Career Goals For the Year Ahead!

Written By Katrina Park 

With the end of the calendar year fast approaching, it’s an ideal time to think about the next year of your career. You may have a performance review coming up because it’s the end of the year for many businesses, or you might have reviews quite regularly within your business. Or perhaps you’ve set a meeting up with your manager of your own accord. Either way, it’s a good time to think about your career goals for the upcoming year.

It’s important to take the time to stop and reflect upon the year just gone and the goals you have achieved during this time before you plan your next ones. As you do this, consider some of the points below.

Is your career plan the same as it was last year?

Before you do anything else, check in with yourself that your wider career plan is still the same, and that you are striving towards the right objective. This time last year you may have had a fixed idea of the direction in which you wanted to take your career, but a lot could have changed since then; from your passions, priorities, and the tasks you enjoy doing in your day to day role. Make sure your career plan is still the best plan for you and ultimately where you want to get to, and if not, reassess and craft a new one.

Reflect on what you have achieved

Now you have your career plan clear in your mind, think about what you have achieved over the past year which is conducive to your career plan, as well the objectives set out in your last performance review. Consider aspects like:

  • Tangible objectives met
    • Skills and knowledge learnt
    • Training courses or qualifications completed
    • New responsibilities taken on
    • New relationships developed between yourself and internal/external stakeholders
    • Occasions in which you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone within this organisation
    • Positive feedback from your colleagues, manager or clients

Document these achievements

It is important that you continuously update any formal career progression plans put in place by your manager or yourself.  Doing this ensures that you don’t forget your achievements or undersell yourself when it comes to the next milestone in your career plan, from the upcoming meeting in your diary with your boss, to when you next ask for a promotion, or even interview for a new role.

Give yourself the praise you deserve

You should also stop to acknowledge your achievements for the sake of your own morale. Recognising your wins and progress can do wonders for your motivation levels.

Maintain momentum

As important as it is to acknowledge and celebrate success, it is also crucial that you don’t lose momentum or get complacent or rest on your laurels, so once you have given yourself a pat on the back for your achievements, think about how you can build on them.

Assess everything you have accomplished over the past year in more detail, and consider what was it in particular that you did well or differently to reach this achievement? More importantly, how can you go build upon each achievement, and move yourself even closer towards the next stage of your career plan?

Think about what you can improve

Now it’s time to think about what didn’t go so well. Out of the goals you set yourself this time last year, which didn’t you achieve? Now consider why this was and try to learn the lessons so you can improve on these points next year. You should also ask for feedback from your manager before you sit down with them, and prepare actionable solutions yourself to bring for discussion during the meeting.

Set your goals for next year

Now that you have taken the time for some honest self-reflection, you can take the lessons you have learnt to shape your career goals for next year, from the mistakes you will avoid, to the achievements that you can build upon and add to.

Set yourself realistic, yet ambitious goals, based on the progress you have made with your previous ones, and plan to share and agree these with your manager.

You should also think about the resources you will need to support you in reaching these goals and targets and perform better, whether it’s more support from other members of the team and/or your manager, or particular educational courses.

And finally – good luck!

In short, take a moment to reflect on the year just gone, from the achievements which have benefited your career plan, to the obstacles which have got in the way. In doing this, you can take away some valuable lessons to shape you career goals for the upcoming year.