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Imagine you’re lost in the Sierra National Forest. You’re in a gully surrounded by trees so thick the sun barely shines through, and you don’t know what direction you are going. You clamber up a steep hill. At the top, the trees clear, and you can see for miles in all directions. Best of all, you can see your camp! You’re not lost! You’ve got perspective!

Sometimes we get so enmeshed in the day-to-day demands of our job that we lose perspective of where we are and where we want to be. The new year is a great time to reflect and develop career goals. Here are some ideas to help you gain the higher ground and start the year on top—where the view is incredible!

Where Am I?

Before you determine your career goals, it’s good to get a clear picture of where you are now. So first, consider your strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments. Then, write them down for future reference.

An excellent tool for helping you gain perspective is your most recent performance evaluation. What did your supervisor applaud? What did they suggest you improve? Look for ideas from this meeting that you can incorporate into your career plan.

Another resource you can tap into is a trusted co-worker. Their perspective will differ from your supervisor’s, and they may offer insight into behaviors your boss isn’t around to see. Remember, you’re not working for them, but they can add a helpful viewpoint.

SMART Goals

Once you have a good overview of your current situation, you can create your goals for the future. First, consider where you want to be three or five years from now, then break that down into one-year goals. Use the SMART acronym to help you generate a purposeful plan. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Clear the Path

A worthy goal should be challenging, but there are still things you can do to smooth the way to accomplishment. The first is to declutter. Re-evaluate your list of goals, prioritize, and then eliminate the unnecessary. According to Thanh Pham (Asian Efficiency), “You have to be willing to focus on just one goal at a time.”

Don’t just declutter your goals -tidy your space. Libby Sander (Harvard Business Review) says, “Cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus.” What better time to clean your desk than the New Year?

Divide and Conquer

For example, perhaps you have four personal development books you want to read this year. First, divide twelve months by four, giving you three months for each book. Now divide the number of pages in the first book by 90 to determine how many pages you need to read each day to reach your goal. Breaking your goal into more manageable tasks will help you pace your work and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Finally, to help you remember your new strategy, attach the activity to something you are already in the habit of doing. In our example of reading, you could plan to read during lunch or your morning commute.

Climb the Hill and Get Your Bearings (Again)

Maintaining your momentum requires evaluating your progress consistently. How often you do this is up to you but climb up that hill and look at the big picture again. Have you made progress toward your goal? Is it still important to you? Is there a better way to reach it? Remember that if something isn’t working, what you learn from your experience can still ultimately move you toward your goal.

Start the New Year Off Right

Is starting a new career is your goal this year? Career Concepts can help you find a great job faster. Build your skills, advance your career, and connect with top employers. Contact us today and kick off the year on top.


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