Professional woman plans her career goals for the next year

It's time for your annual career checkup! What changes do you want to make in your work life next year? Do you want a new job or a promotion? Do you want to keep doing the same things work-wise but with a new employer? Do you want to change career directions altogether? Are you happy where you are but want to boost your performance?

Regardless of your career situation, the new year offers you a clean slate. If you're a goal-driven person, then you probably set performance targets for yourself at work and in your personal life. Now that the new year is here, it's time to set your career goals for the next 12 months.

Remember to keep your goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound):

What To Consider As You Set Your Career Goals For The New Year

Man thinks about his career goals for the next year



Armed with a list of the most critical relationships in your work life, set a goal for each. What's the one action you can take that will sustain or improve each relationship?

Past Goals

Are you carrying forward any of last year's goals into this year? If so, make a note of them. In addition, jot down the primary goals you would like to achieve in your career this year. Are you aiming to land a new job or a promotion by a certain date? Or are you planning to clarify your career next steps or explore a new industry?

Career Trajectory

What title, employer type, and industry would you like to be in by the end of this year? Aim high and dream big, and then work backward to detail the path you will need to take to achieve this trajectory.

Personal Brand

Which elements of your personal brand would you like to refine and capitalize on more this year? How will you do this? What types of projects, assignments, and roles will enable you to develop your personal brand at work?

Career Values

What are the top three career values you would like to honor most throughout this next year?

Career Passions

What are the top three career passions you would like most to express throughout the coming year?

Career Gifts/Talents

What are the top two career gifts or talents you would like to use the most this year?

Industry Trends

Which industry trends are most likely to impact your career in the coming year? What specific actions can you take in the next 12 months to make those impacts as positive as possible? What can you do to mitigate any potential negative impacts?

Personal and Professional Development

What new personal or work-related skills do you plan to develop this year? What formal or informal training will you complete? Remember that once you officially enroll in a class or program, you can add it to your resume and LinkedIn profile—just make sure you clarify that you are enrolled and have not yet completed it. Once you've completed the class or program, you can note this completion on your resume or LinkedIn profile as well.


What achievement opportunities exist for you in your current role this year? Are there projects or initiatives that you think will enable you to solve a problem, improve sales, innovate, or help the company to achieve shared goals?

Achieving Your Career Goals

Woman writes down career goals she wants to achieve


Once your plan is crafted, put legs under it by tying your goals and plans to specific dates in your planner. Break larger annual goals into small weekly chunks and make sure you access support for each goal you set:

  • Who can assist you in achieving each goal?
  • What information or resources do you need to pursue these goals?
  • What new skills or success habits must you put in place to realize these goals?
  • What changes or adaptations will you have to make, and how will you go about executing those?
  • What barriers to accomplishing these goals are in your way or could arise? How will you overcome these barriers?
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Put your career plan in a form that feels right to you. Store it where you will see it often (preferably daily) and schedule monthly reviews of your plan. Each month when you reread it, make a note of your progress, successes, and problems. Get help when you need it—don't wait until the year is nearly over to admit that you need support to achieve a goal. Most of all, though, have fun with your goals. Resolutions are supposed to bring us joy!

Need help achieving your career goals this year? We're here for you!

Check out our FREE resources page and Live Events Calendar.

Or, join our career growth club today and get access to one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, online tutorials, and unlimited networking opportunities—all in your back pocket!

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This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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