career goals

Don't let those career goals elude you for yet another year. Follow these five steps to set yourself up for success in the new year.


Another year has come and is on its way out, an end that often comes with mixed feelings. Perhaps you feel some nostalgia over another year almost gone or elation at leaving behind a hard season. Maybe you even feel some regret for not accomplishing the career goals you set up forth to conquer this past January.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, now is the time to take stock, make some notes, and begin preparing for the new year. Because no matter what career goals you left unturned or undone in 2018, they can always be pursued in the new year. So rather than waiting to scribble a few guilt-ridden new year’s resolutions down on a post-it at noon on January 1, take the time now to prepare well. Slow down, pause for reflection, and prayerfully plan for the new year. I promise you won’t regret it.

Ready to get started? Here are five steps you can take this holiday season to intentionally prepare for your 2019 career goals and make it the best year yet.

1. What Worked?

The first step to any good reflection is to take stock of what has already taken place. Did you put new habits in place this year? Which ones worked? What did you like about them? For example, you could have had a goal to speak up more in meetings. Did you grow that into a habit? If so, what was the result of that work? Think through all of the things that you changed (or intentionally kept the same) and pinpoint what worked. What impacted you enough to make you a mentally, spiritually, and physically healthier person today?

2. What Didn’t Work?

The second step is to consider all the things that didn’t work. Are there habits that you put in place that ended up creating more stress or didn’t have the desired effect you had in mind when you created them? Did you set goals that you couldn’t meet only to end up stuck in fatigue and guilt today? Perhaps you made a goal of starting a new project every month and weren’t able to maintain that past February. Make a note of that. Figuring out what didn’t work is just as important as outlining what worked.

3. Where Do You Want to Go Next?

Now that 2018 has been properly dissected, let’s think about 2019. Where do you want to go next? If nothing was hindering you, what would you set out to accomplish in 2019? As you think through this, don’t just focus on your career. Rather, consider every facet of your life including finances, service/volunteerism, family, friends, faith, etc. Because even if you achieve that career goal of obtaining a promotion, enrolling in a master’s program, starting a new side business, or getting a pay raise, if the other areas of your life aren’t in order, achieving those career goals won’t be sustainable long term.

So take stock of everything. How good is your support system? Are your finances in a healthy place? Do you have a plan set up to save for retirement? Are you pouring enough into your family and friends? How strong is your faith? This is where the transformation happens, so dream big.

4. Put a Plan in Place

Once you figure out where you want to go, put a plan in place for how you’ll get there. Just like a road trip, ideas and destinations are nice to imagine, but then, at the end of the day, they’re just that—imaginations. By taking the time to outline how you’ll get from point A to point B, you can guarantee yourself a higher chance of success. For example, if you’re unhappy in your career or you’re ready to try something new, you could list out continuing education options, conferences, or degrees to check out—all of these tools are ways that you can begin to change your current circumstance into a healthier one—to actually get from point A to point B rather than simply dreaming about a promotion in your cube for another year.

5. Share the Plan and Get Support

The last step is to share your plan with a few key, trusted people to set up some accountability. By sharing with these people, you can ensure that someone will help keep you on track. We’re all familiar with the mid-year slump, but this year you can beat it by bringing some trusted friends in on the journey with you.

If you need even more motivation to work on your goals, you can also set up incentives for yourself. For example, if you’re researching schools for that next degree that you want to obtain, you could make a goal of having a list researched by March with an incentive of having to pay each support team member $20 if you miss the deadline.

Preparing well for a new year is no small task. However, it can be not only a fun but also a transformational experience. So I encourage you, don’t take lightly the task of proper preparation. All of us here at Concordia believe that you have a unique calling on your life and we’re excited to see how a little reflection and preparation can go a long way in helping you fulfill that calling.

If you’re ready to take an even bigger step toward achieving your career goals, check out our free email course “Functioning Above Entry Level.” This course will walk you through a few key lessons on how you can recognize and utilize your personal strengths to make strides in your career. 

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