Achieving Your Career Goals This Year

By Julia Califano · February 08, 2024 · 6 minute read

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Achieving Your Career Goals This Year

Are you ready to take your professional growth to the next level in 2024?

Whether you’re hoping to get a raise, clinch that promotion, or switch careers, the beginning of a new calendar year can be a great time to sit down and reflect on where you’ve been, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there.

Why bother setting professional development goals? Without a specific direction in mind, it can be easy to fall back on what you’ve always done, or just take any opportunity that comes your way without thinking critically about what you want. This can leave you feeling unsatisfied and rudderless in your professional life.

Even if you’re just starting out, you have more agency over your work life than you might think. Setting clear and specific goals can set you on the right path, help you take control of your career, and lead you to the job you’ve always dreamed of.

To help unleash your full potential, here’s a look at four examples of career goals to consider for this year.

Get That Raise

When was the last time you got a pay increase? If it’s been longer than a year, it may be time to speak up. To build a case for a bump up in pay, consider doing some research into the going rates for your job in your area. If your compensation is below par, you can use this information as leverage for requesting an increase.

You can also increase your odds of getting a raise if you can effectively communicate your value to management. Rather than say you need more money, you might point out the hours and dollars you’ve saved the company, how you’ve improved productivity, or the additional responsibilities you’ve taken on since your last pay increase.

Asking for a raise isn’t easy, but you can do it. Even if the answer is no, you’ve started the conversation. This gives you the opportunity to ask what specific actions would be needed to merit a raise. If tight budgets are the issue, you might ask about a one-time bonus, either now or after a set time period.

Recommended: Guide on What to Do When You Get a Pay Raise: 12 Tips

Build Your Professional Network

The saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” has some truth to it. So in addition to polishing your professional skills, consider making 2024 the year you focus on expanding your professional community. You can build your network by attending networking events and connecting with other like-minded professionals via social media. You might also ask colleagues, friends, and family members to introduce you to contacts that may be a good professional fit.

Meeting professionals and keeping in contact with them can help you learn more about the industry, including job opportunities down the line. Individuals in your network may also be willing to serve as mentors and help you develop important career skills.

Climb the Ladder

Earning a promotion enables you to assume a more important role in your company, earn a higher salary, and gain a heightened sense of accomplishment. If your goal is to land one, start taking extra measures to become a prime candidate for your desired position. That might mean going above and beyond in your role, seeking out opportunities to get noticed, and demonstrating your leadership skills.

If you haven’t recently had a performance review with your manager, the new year is a great time to set one up. Let them know that you would like to discuss your career path, and come prepared with data on what you’ve accomplished and a clear ask on where you’d like to go next.

Recognize that while you may not get what you’re asking for tomorrow, you’re taking an important first step in the process. This meeting will allow you to get clear on what you’d need to do to earn a promotion, and discuss a timeline for next steps.

Recommended: Working Remotely Could Hurt Your Chances to Get Promoted

Move On

Not getting any traction on a pay bump or promotion? This might be the year to pursue a more challenging role at a different company. If you’re ready to move on (and, ideally, up), start scoping LinkedIn and networking with recruiters or HR representatives in your field.

Not happy with your current career? Pursuing an entirely different career path might be your main professional goal. You could find greater satisfaction and happiness in a new career, as well as a higher salary and more opportunities. Consider what your ideal career is and how you can reach it from your current job. What challenges seem exciting to you? What are you well-prepared to do, and what would you rather avoid? What other experiences can you draw on as examples of your skill set — for example, previous jobs, volunteer work, side hustles? Reach out to professional connections you have in other industries to determine whether they might be a good fit for you.

Recommended: New Year, New Goals: Set and Achieve Your Career Resolutions

Tips to Achieve Your Career Goals

Whatever your professional objective for the coming year, here are some steps that can help you get there.

•   Write down your goal and steps involved. It’s important to get your goal out of your head and down on paper. In addition, think through and list out the steps you’ll need to achieve it. This will help you remember and accomplish each step. Post your list where you will see it often.

•   Set deadlines. Turn “some day” into a specific day by setting deadlines for each step in your plan. Deadlines will keep you on your toes, and give you a sense of accomplishment as you meet your targets.

•   Reward yourself. Taking steps toward your career goals requires hard work and commitment. Think of small rewards to give yourself when you complete any step to help you stay motivated and on task.

•   Have a goal partner. Consider recruiting a friend or coworker to help you stick to your plan. Discuss your goals, and check in with them when you complete steps. If possible, do the same for your partner.

•   Connect with a coach. If you’re feeling unsure about your career direction, a professional coach can be a big help. Coaches are skilled at asking impactful questions to help you reflect and build more self-awareness. A coaching experience can provide clarity on what’s important to you and empower you to set realistic, flexible career goals.

The Takeaway

Setting — and working towards — goals isn’t easy, especially when it comes to your career. But the process can really pay off, both literally and figuratively.

Creating clear professional objectives prompts you to think about what you want, so you can pursue a position or career that truly satisfies you. While you may not achieve your goal overnight, simply having professional goals can give your work direction and purpose — you have an action plan and are working towards something you really want to achieve in your life.

To explore more work topics, check out SoFi at Work’s resource hub.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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