|  January 4, 2017

3 worthwhile career goals to set this year

With a new year beginning, I thought this would be a perfect time to talk about some career goals for 2017.

These goals aren’t specific to job seekers — they’re really applicable to anyone (regardless of level, industry, or type of job) who is trying to move forward in their career this year. In fact, I’ll be setting these for myself as well.

Goal #1: Ask for something you want

I spent the earlier years of my career keeping my head down, doing the work, and assuming that the people I worked with would notice and I’d get recognition, opportunities, or promotions in due time.

The problem with this approach is that is WAY too passive and if you sit around waiting, these things will happen much more slowly or not at all.

A few years into my career, I found myself in a few situations that forced me into asking for things. First, I had to ask for a remote work situation and soon after that, the ability to work on this business part-time which required more flexibility in my work schedule. 

I was so sure the answers would be no and I’d have to give my notice, but they weren’t. After waiting around for a promotion, I decided to ask for that too and it happened.

As someone who worked in HR for many years, I’ve been able to observe this from the other side of the table too. I’ve seen what happened when people asked for what they wanted, and what happened to those who patiently waited

I have to say, the squeaky wheel does get the grease. That might not be fair but it is true.

Asking for something at work, when done respectfully and reasonably, will NOT hurt your career… or someone’s impression of you. The worst that can happen is that someone says no, but my guess is that the answer will be yes more often than you think.

So that’s goal #1: fight through the discomfort and nervousness and ask for something you want this year. Even if you don’t get it, you’ll start the conversation and plant the seed.

Goal #2: Be proactive about tracking your wins

Getting what you want at work isn’t just about asking. It’s about asking when you’ve already proven yourself and added a ton of value at your company. It’s about asking at a time when your company and team does NOT want you to move on to greener pastures. That’s when you have leverage.

There will likely be a time this year when you have to make a “why I’m great” case. Whether it’s during a job interview or while preparing for a performance review, it’s your job to advocate for yourself and to be able to speak confidently about your strengths and accomplishments.

So for goal #2, I want you to commit to keeping better track of your wins (the small and big) and also commit to doing so consistently. Here’s how:

  • Set up a reoccurring 15-minute calendar block to recap your accomplishments from the month prior (it’s only 15 minutes, you have the time!)
  • Use a google doc, excel, or this PDF tracker to keep track of everything in one place for easy access.
  • When it comes time to use these, go through your tracker and pick the items that are the most relevant for the situation. Keep in mind this may be different for a review vs. writing your resume or interviewing.

This is a really simple and fast habit that can make a really big impact. So that’s goal #2. Block your calendars now.

Goal #3: Say no more often

This is my big one for the year. I’ve definitely hit a wall where there is just TOO much going on in a single day or week. 

If you too are finding yourself bogged down by emails, commitments that aren’t the best use of your time, or work that should be on another person’s plate, this goal is for you.

Remember that “no” is a complete sentence and protecting your time and schedule will only allow you to do better work in the areas that actually matter.

Basically, do less with more focus and get rid of whatever mental clutter you can. It will help you advance in your career this year.

This article from The Muse shares 7 scripts you can use to turn down all kinds of different things in case it’s helpful. Beyond the script, I think we all just need to be more comfortable with giving a plain, old no much more often.

Hope everyone’s year is off to a good start and thanks for reading. If you’re thinking about embarking on a new job search this year, hope you’ll join me for an upcoming webinar!

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