Want Success in the New Year? Focus on Goals, Not Resolutions

 The new year is the perfect time to assess your career priorities, set goals and develop a plan for professional success.

The new year is the perfect time to assess your career priorities, set goals and develop a plan for professional success.

Oh, we love our new years resolutions don't we? We talk and toast. We have such lofty plans for change every new year. But even with the best of intentions, many of us lose momentum by the end of February.  Our efforts start strong but fade fast.  Sadly, that's why many of us have "carryover" resolutions. We didn't do it last year, so we yell: "I'm going to do it this year dammit!" Whether yours are new resolutions or carryovers, what's the answer? Well, it's certainly not going to sound sexy. You need to forget about all the resolution hype and focus on goal setting instead.

Call it a mindset.  Call it patterned behavior. Call it deliberate action. Call it whatever the hell you want to call it, but turn your resolutions into goals.  Consistently setting, monitoring and updating goals creates a structure that fosters career success.  As a millennial it got you through college. Now, it gets you through big projects at work. The only difference is that you're standing on your own two feet inside your trendy footwear. There's no professor and no boss. Just you. You drive it. You keep track. it's the key to your success - forever. To that end, here are Your Office Mom’s tips for career minded people on a mission.

Be Realistic

If you're like most young professionals you try to do too much, too fast under a timeline that's totally unrealistic. Let's say you’re determined to start grad school in Spring. Is that realistic? Are you ready to take the GMAT? What are the test dates? What's your study schedule? Have you taken any practice tests? And if that's done have you applied or been accepted into grad school? What about tuition? Can you do all this, keep your full-time job and your sanity? You have to factor in reality.

The best strategy with this or any other goal is to look at the big picture, as in your life.  Make sure the timeline fits. If there's a lot going on you may have to start small.  Deliberate action and incremental steps create results. If your expectations are too high from the start, you fade fast and end up discouraged and you may give up.

Be Specific

Vague goals get you vaguely related results. Regardless of your goal, you need to research your options first and know what you're going to do specifically. What it’s going to take for you to be successful based on your unique circumstances? Do you want a new job? Perfect! Go for it! What’s your job search strategy?  What is your job search schedule? It can't be "whenever I get around to it" like my blog writing schedule over the past 45 days. What resources will you tap into? What networking events will you attend? What about resume updates and interview practice sessions? Am I sounding like your Mom yet? Good. The point is, it's complex and you need a complex, detailed plan if you want to succeed. So lay it out in all it's granular, OCD detail and create your action plan (yes, of course with dates). 

Be Persistent

Don’t expect to stay on track all the time. It's just not going to happen. Things happen. Like that last minute trip to NYC because airfare was so cheap and you found an amazing place on Airbnb. Plan to miss deadlines. The key is to know when you get off track so you can get back on. Just don’t get so far off track that you can’t find your way back if you are overwhelmed or unmotivated. And build a buffer around critical, non-negotiable deadlines (like grad school dates for example). And of course, when you reach a goal celebrate! Have fun, take a break. But then you need to move on to the next goal on your list.

Be SMART

I know you're smart, but when you set goals make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Based.  This formula works. Try it and see if you can kick ass in less time. I think you can!

Thanks for reading! What tip is going to help you most? Share your comments and this post with others.

Make the new year a spectacular year!

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