2020 is over, but it’s clear that the impact of Covid-19 will continue in 2021 albeit in varying degrees depending on where you live and how the pandemic has affected the industry you’re in.
In a regular year, common career goals might include landing your dream job or getting a promotion. However, depending on how severely your career goals were derailed in 2020, you’ll need to approach 2021 differently.
WHY YOU NEED A PLAN
Waiting for the effects of the pandemic to blow over is certainly not recommended. You should take control of the situation no matter the circumstances instead of allowing yourself to be controlled by external forces.
The approach of learning a new skill, updating your resume and expecting to settle into a linear career is no longer realistic. Ubiquitous and rapid changes in the business world today have necessitated non-linear career paths, so your career plan needs to be similarly non-linear.
You need to concentrate on empowering yourself with interests, skills and abilities that enable you to thrive across industries and roles in an increasingly dynamic business environment.
Approaching goal-setting with agility, adaptability and resilience will give you peace of mind as you navigate uncertainty.
START WITH THE END
Career coaches often ask people to envision themselves on their deathbeds. What would you want to have accomplished by then? What would you like to be remembered for?
When developing your goals, think of that end goal and work backwards. What do you need to do now in order to get there? This exercise will help you determine what’s important to you and crystallise the steps that you need to take while aligning them with your values and vision.
Perhaps you want a job with meaning. Define this clearly for yourself. Identify which jobs will fulfil your desire for meaning and what you need to do to get them.
As you do this, think about what makes you come alive. In the last year, which projects or tasks have made you feel at ease and satisfied? How can these be translated into paid work in the future?
BUILD RESILIENCE EVERY DAY
2020 might have caused you to relinquish your original goals. 2021 should motivate you to sustain the resilience you built during challenging times.
Think about how you got through especially difficult days in 2020. How did you organise your time? What did you do to take care of yourself each day while meeting deadlines from home or while hunting for a job?
Apply these coping mechanisms and more in 2021 so that you are better able to deal with unexpected hardships.
Also examine the things that drained you. If too many video meetings drained you, consider asking people for quick phone calls instead.
Your aim should be to engage in activities that invigorate you and sharpen your focus, so that you can concentrate on productive tasks that help you achieve your goals more rapidly.
BUILD INDUSTRY KNOWLEDGE, AND HONE ADJACENT AND TRANSFERABLE SKILLS
It’s easy to get comfortable in a job and think you know all there is to know. Whether or not you have a job today, taking the time each day to update yourself on what’s required of your desired job role and the latest industry trends is vital.
This will help you set your goals more intelligently to be aligned with the external forces that will determine your success.
Also consider incorporating the following tips into your list of career goals:
In order to ensure that you can pivot successfully in challenging times, focus on acquiring skills adjacent to your area of expertise. This ensures that should you be required to take on a different role due to industry shifts, you’ll be able to do so confidently.
In addition, identify and hone transferable skills that will enable you to work in any industry. This will strengthen your career resilience should another crisis arise.
One of the best ways of doing this is to take on diverse job roles. If your employer has an opening in another department that requires skills adjacent to your area of expertise, ask if you can try your hand at it. Employers support such initiatives now more than ever before and are happy to provide training support to individuals who want to broaden their skills.
Taking on contract or project work will also allow you to hone a variety of skills across industries.
MAKE SURE YOUR GOALS ARE SMART
Goals need to specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and have a timeline.
Specific: the goal should be precise and descriptive (for example: Identify my biggest gap in being recognised as subject matter expert and hone my skills to a level that will enable at least 5 of my peers to recognise me as such and use me as a resource for their businesses by the end of 2021.)
Measurable: the success of the goal must be measurable by set markers
Achievable: is the goal realistic for you to achieve?
Relevant: does the goal fit into your overall career aspirations?
Time-bound: are there milestones throughout the process? Is there a set deadline?
DEFINE AND UNDERSTAND YOUR MOTIVATION FOR EACH GOAL
You will more likely commit to your goal if you fully understand its purpose and how it would add value to your life.
Ask yourself why it is important for you to achieve this goal. The answers will strengthen your resolve.
BREAK THEM DOWN
Each goal can seem like a mammoth project so breaking them down into manageable tasks will certainly help.
For instance, if your goal is to learn two new skills in order to land a job that gives your life meaning and purpose, document the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve mastery of those skills and what you’ll do in the meantime to reach out to people in the relevant industry in order to set the stage for a job application.
Set a deadline for each task that contributes to the larger goal.
Meeting these deadlines will signify constant progress and keep you motivated.
IDENTIFY WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE ENTIRELY ON YOUR OWN STEAM
A lot of goals are dependent on others. For instance, whether or not you land a job depends on hiring managers and how quickly they get back to you.
In order to experience progress within your control, set goals that you can achieve entirely on your own. Of course, these goals should be aligned with your ultimate goal.
If you’re looking for a new career or job, these goals could include researching a new company every week, or attending a networking event each month.
SHARE YOUR GOALS WITH OTHERS
Once you’ve written them down, share them with others – family, friends or colleagues who will keep you accountable, motivated and on track.
IDENTIFY THE RESOURCES AT YOUR DISPOSAL
Which courses, people, or websites, etc. can help you achieve your goal?
Try all the possibilities you can think of.
These could include identifying mentors and making an effort to speak with them regularly. Reading books or blogs can also ignite your enthusiasm and help you gain knowledge.
STAY ON TRACK AND BE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOURSELF
Identify and list your priorities. This will help you spend your time wisely on the most productive tasks. In addition, track your efforts to minimise the time spent on tasks that don’t contribute to your goals.
Hold yourself accountable to the tasks you’ve planned each day to ensure you’re progressing towards achieving your larger goals.
Don’t allow yourself to lose momentum. We all know how hard it is to get back on track.
Psychologists also recommend visualising your career path. Learn to visualise yourself achieving your goals and imagine what it would feel like to have done so. If you want to be successful, you have to first envision yourself as a success.