How to crush your career goals in 2017

How to Crush Your Career Goals in 2017 and Beyond

“Starting January 1, I will…”

Whether focused on your personal or career goals, however you choose to finish that sentence, it’s clear that you’re thinking ahead to the new year. But you can’t move forward successfully without first looking back and understanding where you are today. Goal-setting works best in tandem with self-assessment.

To make 2017 the year you step up professionally and work toward a more productive, profitable, and fulfilled career, don’t start with resolutions; start with reflection:

1. Friend your past. What were your career goals in 2016? Whether you wrote them down or just thought about them, take inventory: What did you do well? What could you have done differently?

If you didn’t set any goals, take a look at the career skills you developed (hard and soft), the important connections you made, and the key relationships you enriched. Then, think of them practically; if you had to rewrite your resume tomorrow, what big changes would you make?

Above all else, stay positive. This step is not about indulging your inner critic. The real question to ask as you look back over 2016 is not Did I?, but rather, How did I?

When doing this exercise, you may fall back on the action items you took to get things done but I recommend you also look at – “how was I behaving so that I could accomplish those things,” for example, your commitment to learning new things, being vulnerable, to ask questions and for help when you didn’t know something, these ways of “being,” could have gone a long way to helping you get to where you are today. As you plan for 2017, dig deep into who you are, at and away from work, to help refine your short- and long-term career goals. Use Talentoday’s assessment tool to help you learn more about your work personality and what motivates you, and then explore your values and priorities using Life Values’ Inventory program.

Related: How to Have Uncomfortable Talks for Career Success

2. Imagine quitting your job. Don’t officially give notice; just think about it as an exercise in starting over with a blank slate. Would it benefit you more to make a switch or to staying your current position to expand your skills and offerings? Is your current employer taking advantage—in good, strategic ways—of your talents? Is there room for the growth you need to get ahead? Can you be yourself at work? Once you’ve determined the answers, create a career vision statement that aligns both your personal and professional goals. Focus on these three things:

A. What you’re good at (what you’ve mastered, for example)

B. What brings you the most fulfillment, as well as what challenges or motivates you

C. How and where you can develop the most authentic relationships

Build out your vision statement with action steps so you can visually track your growth. Don’t just want a big promotion by mid-year, plot out tactics to make it happen (e.g., take on new projects or manage up to help your boss look great) and take control of your career. When you’re personally invested in a career move—whether considering a total or vertical shift—career success is much easier to envision.

3. Set up your war room—with a view. You’ll want to stay on top of your action steps throughout 2017. So calendar “appointments” with yourself for quarterly reassessments to ensure your personal happiness and career goals are still well aligned. Did you spearhead a project management initiative or upgrade your LinkedIn profile to capture new clients as planned? If not, think about what stopped you and take steps to overcome those barriers.

4. Dig in to professional development. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks of your job, but don’t let that prevent you from investing in yourself with an eye on the bigger picture. Seek out what your company offers (lunch and learn sessions, training webinars, or networking happy hours), and research what’s available online in your field (add an advanced certification to your resume, for example).

Read Next: 5 Expert Tips for Landing a Big Promotion in 2017

5. Hit the ground running (but don’t go it alone). You have a plan to meet your goals, and you’re tracking your progress, but don’t stop there. Relationships are essential elements of career development, so don’t just take advantage of employer-sponsored opportunities to brush shoulders with colleagues you respect; find an accountability partner outside of the office, too. An ally— someone on a comparable career track— can keep you focused and help you transform your on-paper plan into tangible results. Think of this partner as your personal career trainer and cheerleader (and vice versa, as you will be doing the same for your partner!). Schedule regular meet-ups and phone calls.

Career growth can be hard work, so sweeten the deal with a some positive reinforcement along the way. Reward yourself with a new work outfit or an eBook on a topic of interest as you hit your goals. Taking opportunities to celebrate your progress—even if it’s just visiting a new craft brewery or treating yourself to an extra-long hike after you score big on a project—ensures your goals become habits, your vision leads to action, and your 2017 is on track to become the best year of your career.

Want to crush more career goals? Put SoFi’s Career Strategy team in play for customized coaching and other personalized career-planning services.

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ABOUT Rachel Kim Rachel Kim is a Career Strategist and Coach at SoFi, empowering SoFi members to make progress towards career success and happiness. Before becoming a coach full-time, Rachel led and designed organizational and leadership development programs at various local, statewide, and national nonprofit organizations. Early in her career, she also dabbled in media planning and consulting for companies such as Hasbro, Marvel, and Time, Inc. Rachel is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and holds an MPA from Baruch College and a BA from Dartmouth College. Her favorite happiness hacks include listening to podcasts during her commute, exploring parks and playgrounds with her two young children, and Netflix-binging with her husband.

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