Picture goal setting as a swinging teeter totter where your zealous ambition and self doubt go up and down; fun in theory, exhausting in the long run. Although this is the perfect time of year to strategically think about career goals, remember, everyone wrestles with finding that perfect balance. Avoid the trap of succumbing to overhyped new years resolution vibes by setting smart objectives that will manifest into career wins. Even if tomorrow is unknown, having your career planning in hand means you’re not facing it alone.
Ask yourself: what kind of professional goals do I want to set? Are they the kind that look great on paper or the kind that seem out of this world? Yes, there’s a difference between professional goals and career aspirations. It’s a lesson we all learn pretty early on but sometimes forget in our excitement to reach that next career stage. Knowing that difference is why most new years resolutions are off the mark. We think big without thinking of the small steps that lead to it. That’s why it’s important to break these two down; one can’t exist without the other after all. The career goals you set for the new year tie into the big career aspirations you have in mind.
Here are some questions to help differentiate between the two:
What if you’re struggling to put your finger on that one big career aspiration? There’s so many options out there and you are talented and curious enough to want to do them all. We get it! That’s where research becomes your confidante. Taking the time to research the types of roles, industries, and skills that interest you helps to pinpoint not only a career aspiration, but everything else involved.
Our very own Roles in Marketing section on CMA NXT is a great resource that does just that. Get to know the people behind the job title from across many industries in Canada. Learn about their career journeys, the highs, and the lows, to see if it could be the right fit for you. Plus, we just launched a new webinar series called Marketing Connected Live that features Canada’s marketing leaders, futurists, and forecasters. All that insight in one place; all it takes is signing into your NXT account!
Maybe you’ve heard before that writing things down helps with memory retention. Or maybe you are that person who eagerly buys a new agenda before the end of the year. (You want your pick of the agenda litter and you know you can’t function otherwise). There’s something to be said about writing down goals. It’s backed up by psychology studies that found people who write down their goals on a regular basis are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. Why is that? It comes down to parts of your brain activating when you bust out that fountain pen.
So, whether it’s a dedicated notebook or a spare sheet, get down to writing it out. It’s you, the paper and your focus working together to spell it out (literally and figuratively). Or if you prefer to mix things up, find other ways to bring your career goals into view. Perhaps a vision board if you’re the more visual type. We’ve also put together a Career Goal Planning Worksheet to get the juices flowing and the words out. It goes without saying but try not to get hung up on getting it perfect the first time. Keep writing and refining until you’re happy with what’s on the page. Then go make it a reality.
Before patting yourself on the back and thinking all is good, don’t forget to set some reflection time. Checking in with yourself throughout the year to review your professional goals and progress on them will help you stay on task. You can readjust your timelines, give yourself the pep talk of the year or even high five yourself (no one will judge). Find a realistic time range that works for you and provides some breathing room.
So, set it and forget it: on your phone, in an agenda, or your trusty Google home. Before you know it, the time will be here. Find a quiet place and carve out whatever time you need to dive deep into how’re your doing and back it up with facts. Did you learn that new skill and complete a course to prove it? Did you practice communication skills with a trusty colleague? Did you watch all of CMA NXT’s Marketing Yourself videos? We know you got this.
As a final thought, remember to not let your inner critic get into the driver’s seat. Even if you haven’t made as much progress as you thought, be kind to yourself. A lot can happen in a year and you’ll know it. Being mindful of your inner critic is like sweeping up that dust bunny in the corner of your living room. It opens up the space for what’s already in there and working.
With all that said and done, doesn’t it feel like your career goals are within grasp? We can’t plan for everything of course but starting the new year with these goals top of mind is an invigorating practice that’ll take no time at all to do.