Research shows that 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions – are you included? Resolutions can be an excellent way to set goals and devise a plan to achieve them in the new year.
But here’s the thing: Research also shows that only 8% of Americans who make resolutions are successful. If you’ve set career resolutions for 2016, don’t be discouraged by these statistics – we’re here to help. Armed with the right knowledge, your odds of success should increase dramatically.
This game plan can help you get off to a great start in your path toward 2016 Career Resolutions success. Feel free to print it out and hang it next to your bed or computer for a regular dose of focus and inspiration:
- Be realistic. Aiming high and reaching for the stars is admirable, but sometimes it takes longer than a year to reach the highest heights. Instead of aiming for the stars initially, take a more realistic approach. Think about what you can accomplish in one year – aiming high enough that it won’t be easy, but that it’s attainable. When people set goals that seem impossible, it can seem too daunting and ultimately result in giving up. A realistic yet challenging resolution offers just enough “reach” to help you strive for your best, but with an end result that is most definitely achievable.
- Be as specific as possible. “Find a new job” is a great goal, but in order to make goals more actionable, you should get specific. What kind of job? Is there a location that works best for you? How much would you like to earn? When would you like to find your new job by? These are just some of the questions you should ask in order to get specific with your career resolutions. If you’re struggling, just think about everything that would impact your goal. Focus on what would be the most ideal fulfillment of your resolution, then write it down. So “Find a new job” becomes, “Find a new administrative position for $17 an hour that is within 20 minutes of my house and offers the flexibility to work from home one day a week.” With the vague goal, devising and acting on a game plan can be hazy – it’s hard to know if you’re spending your time and effort on the right things or if you’re really making progress toward the goal. But when your goal is specific, you can eliminate unnecessary steps and options, allowing you to focus your energies in the right places.
- Spread the word. The phrase “accountability partner” is popular with people who make resolutions. Whether it’s having a friend call you every morning at 5am to help you wake up earlier or a family member who joins you for your morning jog to help you stay on track, having someone who will keep you in check and ensure you’re working steadily toward your goals can make a big impact on your success. If you can’t find one person who will hold you to your goals and plans each day, find two or three and ask them to do one thing (for example, one person might email you every day asking which jobs you applied to, while another might call you after a job interview to see how it went). And outside of your accountability partners, tell as many people as possible about your goals. While we may not be afraid of letting ourselves down from time to time (“life” gets in the way sometimes, we know!), as human beings, we are less likely to fail at a goal if we know other people are counting on us. So put your family and friends to work for you, and let them know about your goals. Ask them for encouragement, and talk about your progress with them in conversations and emails, and also on social media sites like Facebook. Their continued encouragement can help keep you motivated and focused.
- Break it up. You have set your resolutions and defined your goals for 2016…now what? Breaking down those goals into actionable steps and putting them on your calendar are essential. Having a goal is great, but taking action on that goal is what gets things done. Using the example above, your steps might include, “Attending three networking events each week,” or “Updating my resume before January 31,” or “Reach out to 10 former colleagues and update them about my status before February 7.” Break down how you’ll achieve your goals, then put those steps on your calendar to define how long you should take to complete each step.
- Expect setbacks. Remember, “life” happens. Maybe you’ll catch a cold, or a family member will need your help unexpectedly. Something may come up that derails you from your schedule and goals temporarily. But let the emphasis be on “temporarily.” Schedules can be changed and updated. Goals can be refined. If you know and appreciate that setbacks will happen, you will be more prepared to roll with the punches and get back on track. Setbacks happen to everyone, but those who persevere are the ones who end up reaching their goals in the end.
Do you need help setting or reaching your career goals in 2016? Helpmates works with some of Southern California’s top employers. Search our jobs now to find a position that will help you aim higher in 2016, or call your nearest office to speak with one of our recruiters.