How to set the right career goals for 2021

It’s a New Year and for many, that implies reflecting on the past year and setting new goals. With a more than unusual 2020, the coronavirus pandemic did leave an impact on many individuals—whether positive or negative.  

Typically, career goals for the New Year would include getting a promotion, learning new skills or getting a new job. However, a lot of these similar plans for last year may not have played out as expected and that’s an invaluable lesson to guide your planning this year.

Setting goals is important in keeping your focused on the future but doing this effectively goes beyond just writing down a few pie-in-the-sky dreams and hoping for the best. The most successful people in their chosen career path don’t set pipe dreams but SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) goals.

Considering how 2020 turned out, it is necessary to adopt a more proactive approach when setting your career goals. Here are some of the things to consider while drafting out your career goals for 2021:

1. Take note of your accomplishments

Before you jump right into drafting a career goal for 2021, take some time to reflect on all your accomplishments last year. No matter how big or small, thinking about your accomplishments after such an unpredictably difficult year can be important in giving you the right mindset.

“Did you write a blog post? Apply to jobs? Start a meditation routine? Even if you had higher expectations for yourself, anything you accomplished during such a tumultuous year is worthy of your recognition and pride,” said Akhila Satish, CEO of Meseekna.

2. Determine what excites you

Whether you work as a computer programmer, tech support professional or an actor, determining what makes you happy on the job is crucial in setting the right plans for the New Year.

That way, you can tell if you require a career switch or need to upskill. It could also help you determine the type of work environment you thrive in and factor all this into your plans for the year.

“What makes you come alive? Think about times when you’re working on something that makes you feel at ease and that you feel is worthwhile. What tasks are you completing? What kind of environment are you working in? Who are you interacting with?” said Ladies Get Paid founder and author Claire Wasserman.

3. Know what you don’t want

For some, it is difficult to create a career goal for themselves based off what they would want. Therefore, according to career consultant Jackie Mitchell, determining what you don’t want can help you narrow your focus for the year.

Based on your experiences, you may already know that you dislike certain tasks or work environment. Now, you can create a plan that ensures you reduce these dislikes to the barest minimum or eliminates them.

4. Know what you can accomplish yourself

A lot of professionals create goals that are heavily dependant on other people—like how getting a job is dependant on not only a vacancy but the hiring manager finding and hiring you.

Therefore, if you intend to accomplish a lot of your set goals for this year, it is important to include goals that are totally dependent on you. For example, if your goal is to get a new tech job in 2021, rather than just sitting around waiting for an opportunity to fall on your lap, create goals that include you attending networking events, learning new tech skills and researching a new company every week.

5. Manage your time well

Time is very essential in achieving your career goals and it is necessary to spend it wisely. Each career goal you set for yourself should be completed over a specific period of time. Therefore, you have to constantly find ways to optimize the time at your disposal and get the best possible results. 

Keep in mind that career goals can always be changed throughout the year, too. If you discover you are either exceeding or falling short of your career goals, take some time to review them and make the required modifications.