(By Vicki Salemi)
It’s difficult to grasp how swiftly this year is going, isn’t it? It may seem like moments ago that the new year was emerging, but now as Independence Day and close of the third quarter approaches, 2016 is right around the corner.
There’s no better time than the present to reflect upon goals for 2015 – instead of rolling them over into next year’s resolutions, along with your unused vacation time. Here are five ways to end the year on a high note full of achievements:
1. Review your goals, and reprioritize them. Similar to a résumé that needs updating, your annual goals may need a second glance as well. Carve out 15 minutes today to peruse them. The first thing to look at? Priorities. If your current priorities have shifted since January, evaluate and shuffle them as necessary.
Reprioritize while keeping timing in mind. If your No. 1 plan was to land a new job, and that hasn’t happened yet, definitely keep the priority in the top spot. However, if your No. 1 priority was learning a new skill or attending a training course, and that already happened, cross it off the list, and tackle the goal beneath it.
2. Focus on two goals. Once you gain clarity on the order with which to pursue your goals, hone in on the two that are most pressing. Any more than that may be unrealistic, considering you’re adding these two priorities to your already busy workload.
At the start of the year, you may have been ambitious and created several goals and action items. A few days into the new year, you may have been on track. But a few weeks or months later – not so much. That’s not uncommon. Instead of begrudging lost time, simply decide that today is the day to get back on track with your top two career-related goals for the year.
As you focus on your goals, use this prime opportunity to look at your midyear performance review, and create a draft in Outlook. That way, you can simply copy and paste it when it’s time to update the official document for year-end. Like how you periodically revise your résumé, take a few moments to update your review with projects and achievements from the past year. Not only will this help lessen the task toward the end of the year, but it will also likely boost your morale as you document how you add value to your organization.
If job searching is one of your top priorities, taking even a few moments to get immersed in evaluating your performance will prepare you for upcoming interviews, when you’ll need to tap into specific experiences to demonstrate your strengths and abilities.
3. Make a SMART plan. Once you realize the top goals for the next few months, add framework around them. Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. If looking for a new job is at the top on your agenda, for example, get specific in terms of the type of role, company culture and location. Then, instill a quantifiable metric, such as attending two networking events each month and scheduling three networking phone calls or meetings.
4. Create micromanaged tasks. It may feel cumbersome to learn a new skill, take the lead on a project or look for a new job. However, in essence, it’s usually not as bad as the lofty time and effort presumed to be involved. Sometimes the procrastination surrounding a task makes it heavier than the actual action item itself.
Break down your SMART goals into subcategories. For example, looking for a job could entail reviewing your résumé this week and updating it with your current job. Next, start looking online for jobs and calling three people this week within your network. Breaking down your goals into digestible, weekly bites can ramp up those resolutions as you quickly see results and forward movement.
5. Infuse reward systems. Breaking down tasks into smaller to-do items not only creates a tangible, clear system, but it also creates the opportunity to have fun. Start rewarding yourself with bonuses! Become the master of your fate, and concoct a system. For example, after you polish your résumé, attend two networking events and follow up with three new contacts – it’ s massage time! Associate something enjoyable with your actions, and reward yourself for your efforts.