How to Set Career Goals for 2018

From Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Professionals.

A new year is the perfect time to set some career goals. HR expert Pamela Green shares some tips on how to do so.

Have you decided on your New Year’s resolutions or thought about your career goals for 2018?

Refreshed by some time off work over the holidays and filled with excited anticipation about what the next year might hold, many people use the new year as a time to set career goals. But, according to statistics, 80 percent of resolutions are likely to fail by February and only 8 percent of people are successful at following through on their resolutions.

Does that mean setting resolutions is hopeless and you should quit before you’ve even begun? Of course not. Here are a few tips to set you up for success from Pamela Green, president and CEO of the HR Coaching Institute:

Step back and look at the big picture. Before you start making individual career goals, Green said it’s important that you take a moment to ask, “What do I ultimately want to achieve or become?” Possible answers to this question might include a desire to make more money, to move into management, to become known as a thought leader, among others. Setting that ultimate goal is important because it enables you to stay focused and reminds you of why you’re working hard to achieve your goals in the first place.

Set realistic, specific goals. Most people come to coaching sessions with a long list of goals that they want to achieve, but Green recommends setting no more than three goals within a given timeframe. She also recommends setting yourself up for success by setting micro-goals within those larger goals. For instance, if your big goal is to complete a specific online certificate program, go ahead and sign up for it—and then schedule which nights you’ll study and which nights you’ll take the tests. That way, you’re tying actions to your big goal of becoming certified, and you can celebrate those mini wins along the way.

Set deadlines. “In addition to people having too many goals that they’re trying to achieve all at once, sometimes they have no deadline,” Green said. “There’s nothing that they’re trying to beat. [A deadline] also helps hold attention, keeping them accountable and driving toward something.” Still, these should be realistic, too: For instance, if it’s annual conference time at your association and you’re a meeting planner, it might not be the best time to also race through a certification class.

Find an accountability partner. Green recommends enlisting someone outside of the office to keep you accountable to your goals. This could be as easy as having a five-minute check-in, where someone asks you questions like: How did you do on your goal this week? If things didn’t go so well, why? How are you going to get back up tomorrow? “Get someone that you trust that will tell you the truth in love,” she said. “And then have a backup person, when that person’s pressure becomes white noise to you. It should be someone that you respect and needs to be someone that you will listen to.”

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