2023 is just around the corner, and many of us are contemplating goals for the coming year and beyond. But in an era of instability and insecurity, it might seem like setting goals is just setting oneself up for failure. Some of us may look back to 2020 and think about all the goals and plans that went awry that year and wonder—why set goals when the future is so uncertain?
While it’s true that we have little to no control over sweeping global events, there is still value in setting goals and working toward them. In a recent article at Harvard Business Review, social psychologist Heidi Grant says, “to engage our motivational systems and direct our brain’s energy to the right actions (both consciously and below our awareness), we need to have a clear sense of where we are, where we’re going, and whether we’re closing the gap between the two at the right rate. Without goals, we make bad choices and miss opportunities to act.”
Here are six tips to help you think about setting career goals for 2023 and beyond.
1. Focus on the input
While you may be unable to control what positions come open at your organization or whether you can sign new clients during an economic downturn, you can manage your development and the number of phone calls or contacts you make. If you put the right ingredients into the goals, something will happen on the other side, even if it’s not what you initially set out to achieve.
2. Employ a growth mindset
A growth mindset is not about being good right now. It’s about thinking in a way that recognizes growth needs to happen. Use words such as “improve,” “become,” and “develop” as you write out your goals.
3. Make room for the personal
Much of your overwhelm may come from trying to achieve an unrealistic vision of work-life balance. If that’s the case, can your future career goals be adjusted to accommodate personal demands? Or can you make personal changes that create more space to work on career goals?
4. Be willing to take detours
Sometimes the best career decisions come from unexpected directions. As you work toward your ultimate career goals, be open to saying “yes” to unforeseen opportunities if they could improve your connections to other professionals or shore up your skills in a particular area.
5. Set small goals as well as big ones
When big career goals seem too overwhelming, think about the small goals you can meet between where you are and where you want to go. Is there a class or certificate you can complete? Is there a book you’d like to read? Small steps lead to significant achievements.
6. Stay true to your core values
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be tempting to justify decisions that go against your core values. For example, if one of your values is to keep travel to a minimum because of family obligations, a job offer that promises a big raise in pay may be tempting despite the need to travel more. In that scenario, don’t let financial overwhelm override your core values, or at least look at your core values again and carefully analyze whether the need for a pay increase is more important than staying close to home.
The last several years have certainly shaken up the world in big ways, but you can still be the CEO of your career. By setting goals and working toward them, you’ll set yourself up for success in the coming years—no matter what happens on the global stage.
- What is one small goal I can achieve in 2023 to help me achieve my big career goals?
- Do I know my core values? Can I list the things that are most important to me in my career?
- Is there one small change I can make to take more control over my career path?