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Whether you’re happily employed or searching for a job, the new year is an ideal time to set or reset your career goals. The holidays provide some much needed time off to rejuvenate, refresh, and refocus, which can help you to hit the ground running, professionally, come the new year.

Reflecting on 2012

Carve out some time to reflect on 2012–what went well and not so well. If you set annual goals for the year, did you meet those goals? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Did you already add these accomplishments to your resume, or do you still need to do that? Can you identify areas in your career that need improving? If so, these can turn into career development opportunities and goals for 2013.

Setting Career Goals for 2013

A year shouldn’t pass without you learning new things and growing professionally. These are the two guiding factors in renewing or tweaking your career goals for the new year.

Step 1: Set Goals
To generate the best results, your goals should be specific and attainable–while still causing you to stretch a bit.

Step 2: Pick five things to learn
Choose five things you can learn this year that will help move your career forward. You can ask your supervisor for suggestions, or do a little research to see what would be the next logical step in your upward career path. There are two advantages to reaching out at this stage of the game: you let others know your plans and that helps keep you accountable, and you may find out areas of deficiency that need to be addressed.

Step 3: Create an action plan
Whatever goals you set for yourself, you’ll want to develop a tactical plan broken down into incremental, actionable steps to help you achieve each goal. Be sure to write down your action plan! Figure out what steps you’ll need to take to accomplish each goal and write them down in order. If you’re not entirely sure, ask your supervisor. Once you know what you need to do, and you’ve given yourself a check list, it’s time to step up and just do it.

Step 4: Reward yourself.
When you complete a task on your action plan, reward yourself. Choose an incentive to work toward–something you love, something you don’t do or buy often because of the time or money required, and give yourself that something when you achieve a major goal. It’s not the end result you’re working toward, of course. It’s just a pat on the back to keep you moving forward.

It’s your career. And your success is up to you!
Goals–both personal and professional–require your commitment of time and effort. Your new year career goals should motivate and excite you, and advance your professional success.

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