How many times have you already said that you can’t believe it’s September? And then went through your mental list of everything you said you’d accomplish this year way back in January and felt resigned to the fact that those will now have to be 2018 goals?
Well, before you write off the year, I have a little bit of good news for you. And that good news is that there’s still plenty you can do to set and achieve a new career goal by the end of the year!
Here’s are four steps that’ll get you to where you want to be:
1. Document Your Goal
Your goal might be to get a promotion with your current company. Or you might want a fresh start at a new job. Or, perhaps you just want to learn a new skill.
Whatever you’re hoping to do this year, start by tuning out what everyone around you is working toward right now. No really, forget their goals and focus on your own. After all, just because Jaime wants a promotion, doesn’t mean that’s what you should want.
Once you’re focused on you, write your goal down somewhere that’ll you see it a lot. A sticky note on your bathroom mirror, a reminder in your phone, a tattoo on your hand—whatever you know will work best.
For example, last year I stayed on top of my goal by setting a calendar event for December 31st and creating monthly reminders for the first day of every month. This might sound silly (and maybe even a little annoying), but it really kept me on top of things.
2. Create a Game Plan
Of course, choosing and documenting your goal is the first step. But if you want to achieve it by the end of the year, you’ll need to devise a game plan with smaller goals along the way. Not only will this give you a clearer picture of what needs to get done, but completing smaller tasks along the way will motivate you need to keep working toward your bigger goal.
OK, now let’s get specific!
If You Want a Promotion
Do a self-evaluation of your current skills. That could mean comparing your achievements to what your original job description calls for. If you can’t get your hands on that description, review your last three projects and be honest with yourself about what went well, and what didn’t.
Then, compare your list to a description of the role you’re looking to land and identify areas where you need to grow. Once you’ve done this, set up a meeting with your manager to review your research and discuss what else you need to do or know to be eligible for a new title.
If You Want to Find a New Job
There are a couple paths you’ll take here. If you want to make a career change, do some research on the types of roles you should be looking for, as well as any skills you need to learn to make it happen. Spend the rest of this year learning those skills and getting coffee with people in your new field.
Now, if you’re looking for a fresh start in a similar role, start looking for those openings. At the same you’re going to want to update your resume, refresh your LinkedIn, and start prepping for interviews.
No matter which path you’re on, you really do need to reach out to your network after you complete this step and let people know that you’re looking. They might not have anything for you right now, but you’ll be surprised by how many people sincerely mean it when they say they’ll keep an eye open for you.
If You Want to Learn a New Skill
There are lots of ways to do this, from reading up on it to taking a class. But my favorite way is to reach out to connections you know have mastered the skill. Ask them out for a coffee meeting and then document their advice and take it seriously when you dive into learning it.
3. Find People You Trust to Keep You Accountable
I’m a big fan of creating calendar reminders and smartphone alerts when I have a goal to achieve. But those digital things can’t tap you on the shoulder when you’re slacking off. And when you need a kick in the pants, there’s nothing quite as effective as an actual human being to keep you accountable.
Find one or two people to help you stay on track, but make it easy for them. For example, you can create a Google document with your detailed plan and assign due dates for each action item. This will give your accountability partners a much clearer idea of what you’re hoping to accomplish and how they can help you get there.
4. Be Open to Change
Even after you’ve done all this work, things will probably change. So, stay up-to-date on the latest news in your company and your industry. You might find that a company shift requires you to tweak your plan a bit. Or, issues in your personal life may require more time than you initially thought they would. Or, you could discover that the skill you want to learn will take you an entire year.
None of this means you can’t achieve something awesome by the end of December. But rather that you have the freedom to shift gears when necessary.
As you can now hopefully see, it is possible to pull off one more big career win this year. The best part? Even if you don’t hit your original target, just starting this process will help you feel way more accomplished and put you on track to grow your career early next year.
Photo of person at home courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author