10 Small Changes To Stay on Track With Your Career Goals

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You don’t have to move mountains to achieve your career goals. Instead, if you commit to small, consistent changes, you can reach the finish line faster than you might think. World-renowned motivational speaker and trainer Jack Canfield says it doesn’t matter how small the actions are, all that matters is that by doing each one, you make progress toward what you want to accomplish. If you do nothing, however, you’ll be in the same place career-wise come the end of the year.

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To get you started, here are 10 small changes you can start making today to stay on track with your 2021 career goals.

Find a Mentor

Whether you’re planning to move up or transition into a whole new career, an experienced mentor in that industry can provide invaluable insight.

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“Spend some time on LinkedIn or reaching out to peers in the industry to find someone with at least ten more years of experience that you can discuss career goals with and brainstorm action-items together,” said Alison Pearson, head of HR at Hal Waldman and Associates.

Get Feedback on Your Resume

Rachel Esterline Perkins, founder of Venturesome, believes it’s important to get valuable insight on how to improve your skills to be more competitive in the job arena. She recommends reaching out to a mentor or two to share your current resume and ask these three simple questions:

  1. Where am I lacking in skill or knowledge that I can focus on developing this year?
  2. If you were hiring, what areas of my resume, work history, skills, etc. might cause you to be concerned or reject me as a candidate?
  3. What areas of my skills and experience most stand out to you as my strengths?

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See the Value in Free Resources

Before you invest in expensive books, subscriptions or classes to help you stay the course career-wise, look and see what free resources may be available to you through your employer or a free university like Coursera.

“Take advantage of any and all courses your company offers — SkillPath, a library of internal courses, etc. — that can help you develop and improve various skills,” said Sandi Knight, president of Knight HR Consulting.

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Break Big Goals Into Small Pieces

Depending on your career goals, some could take months or years to achieve, which could stall motivation. Biron Clark, former recruiter and founder at Career Sidekick, recommended breaking down bigger goals into smaller pieces. His plan of attack is to start with the end goal in mind and then determine what daily or weekly actions will move you closer to achieving your goal.

“This is how you come up with smaller milestones to keep yourself on-track and motivated,” Clark said. “These smaller goals can be anything from networking with five new people per week to completing an online training to help you get ahead in your current company.”

Share With the Right People

Cale Loken, business coach and CEO at 301 Consulting, believes that you should share your goals and progress with those who have a positive attitude toward life.

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“They will keep you motivated and encouraged to work even harder,” Loken said. “This attitude and motivation play a crucial role in keeping you on track to achieve the career goal. Also, please stay away from negative people because they will always transfer negative energy and demotivate you,” he said.

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Take Time Out for You

While you may be extra busy trying to coordinate your personal and work life, it’s vital to take time for yourself. Otherwise, you risk negative consequences like excessive stress, fatigue and even workplace burnout.

“To make sure you hold space for yourself in the new year, set aside time to recharge your batteries and practice self-care while making your weekly to-do list,” said Jessica Lim, HR manager at MyPerfectResume. “Whether it’s a weekend Netflix marathon or a daily yoga exercise, taking time out for daily relaxation can decrease exhaustion and help you keep balance.”

Make a Financial Plan

Darrell Rosenstein, founder of The Rosenstein Group, notes that finances are a key factor that keeps people from making a much-needed career change. However, he said that making a short-term and long-term financial plan can help you tackle the problem head-on.

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“If your goal is to change careers, for example, you want to have savings of about six months to keep you going as you pursue your next opportunity,” Rosenstein said. “With such a plan, you will feel motivated to take the calculated risks necessary to take your career to the next level.”

Chip Away at Job-Seeking Tasks Each Day

If your career goals for 2021 include landing your dream job, commit to doing a little each day toward your end goal rather than saving it all up for the weekends, Harley Frank, leadership and career coach, recommended.

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“People looking to make career changes often save up all the work related to their career goals for the weekends,” Frank said. “Instead, try doing 10-20 minutes each day. Job searching and applying can be exhausting, but doing the work in short bursts can help you to stay motivated and energized.”

Take Advantage of Virtual Networking

Of all of the negative things that have come out of the pandemic — like having to forgo face-to-face interactions — there are some positives to connecting virtually.

“The benefit this year is there are more online options for national organizations where you could attend a virtual trade show where you may not have been able to go to in the past. This allows additional networking,” said Ann Canfield, certified life coach.

Strive To Eliminate Certain Words From Your Vocabulary

Rio Rocket, host of Design Your Decade podcast and motivational spokesperson for Lowe’s Companies, Inc., believes eliminating certain words from your vocabulary is a simple way to have a profound impact on your progress and results.

“‘Trying’ is a word that makes [a] poor attempt at accomplishment. Replacing this with ‘look/looking to,’ ‘aiming for’ or ‘my goal is to’ will generate the self-confidence and motivation to accomplish your tasks,” he said.

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“Reframing how we communicate our actions, efforts and ideas has [a] significant impact on how we are viewed by others and how we view ourselves,” Rocket said. “View yourself as a go-getter, goal-setter and goal achiever.”

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Last updated: Sept. 29, 2021

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 15 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle and The Seattle Times. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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