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Planning for Career Success in 2021

November 27, 2020
UBC MEL MHLP Alumni Planning Career Success

If your professional goals for 2021 are focused on advancing your career, taking the time to do some strategic planning and setting specific and measurable goals can help launch you on a clear path to success. With the end of the year just a few weeks away, now is a great time to focus on what you want to achieve in the upcoming 12 months and beyond.

As an initial step, think about what long-term success means to you.

Doing so will enable you to understand the steps you need to take to get there and help you understand how your current actions contribute to your development as a leader and your professional advancement.

Second, planning in advance will also enable you to think about the alternative paths you can pursue to achieve your career goals.

What this year has taught us is that the world can change in an instant. Thinking about the other routes you can take to achieve your vision of success is a great way to stay flexible with the variables outside of your control, while ensuring that your actions are contributing to your desired end result.

Finally, doing some planning now can help you identify areas where you might need to work on your skills either short or long term.

As MEL and MHLP graduates, you have already acquired the leadership, business and technical knowledge that will make you more resilient in adapting to changing work environments. By taking the time to do some big-picture planning now, you may be able to identify other knowledge or skills gaps that you might need to address to help you adapt to changing job demands.

Once you’ve done some strategic planning, you’ll want to set some measurable goals.

Each of the goals you’ve set for yourself should be SMART goals – that is, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Here are five tips for setting the smart goals that will propel your career forward.

  1. To be specific, your goal should be as clear and as detailed as possible. Instead of stating “I want my career in 2021 to be very successful,” define the specific goals you want to achieve in your job that will also make you more successful in future. For example, being a great project manager requires great communication skills, so understanding that could help you identify what you need to do to become a better communicator. A specific goal might be: “I want to increase the confidence with which I give feedback to team members and I will keep all team members in the loop with weekly action-focused project status reports.”
  2. Your goal should be measurable, realistic and reasonable. Keeping with the project management example, your goal might be “When I am leading projects, I will ensure that all budgets and timelines are met.” A measurable goal is also easier to track, making it more likely you’ll stay motivated and on course to complete it.
  3. You know yourself best, so once you have set your goals you should reflect on whether you have the capacity to achieve them. Having multiple goals at the same time is not a bad thing; however, having so many goals that nothing ever takes a priority will yield poor results.
  4. Is your goal relevant and will achieving it contribute to your long-term success? Reflecting on whether or not your current goals are relevant to your long-term career success is crucial. Your current success in achieving your goals lays the groundwork for your future achievements.
  5. It is important to set yourself a timeline of when you want to achieve your goals. This is not just about a start and end date. Setting check-in dates and interim goals can keep you motivated and help you stay on track.

Along with planning, setting SMART goals provide the clarity and focus required to get the most out of your efforts.

Taking the time to think strategically about your long-term career aspirations and then develop shorter-term SMART goals is an important investment in your leadership development professional growth. Once you know where you need to go, you can get mentally prepared for what’s ahead and can take action to stay on track to successfully achieve your goals.

Planning a career move for 2021?

If your professional goals for the year ahead include moving to a new position, we can provide support on how to grow your network of industry contacts, put together a great resume and cover letter, and better prepare for interviews. Contact Chris McKinnon, Employer Relations and Careers Manager, to learn more.