What’s your career dream for 2021? Everyone’s career dream looks different. A business owner’s dream will look different than a CEO’s dream, which will look different than a manager’s career dream. The first step to making your career dream comes true is turning your dream into achievable 2021 career goals. Read on to learn how to turn your 2021 desires and wishes in concrete goals with a plan for success.

Think Of The Long-term Goals

To determine what you need to do in 2021 to reach your career goals, you must first turn your eyes to the horizon. It’s important to remember, you can only affect so much change to your career path in a year. With that in mind, you might need to look beyond December 31st, 2021 when it comes to achieving your career dreams. Instead of thinking about what you want to achieve this year, think about where you want to be and what you want to achieve in 5-10 years. This makes it much easier to define your career goals. Do you want to hold a leadership position in your organization or start your own business? Other goals might include wanting to be a better manager, enjoy an improved work/life balance, or obtain a senior leadership position.

Create Stepping Stone Goals

Once you have a specific 5-10 year target, you can break that down into stepping stone goals that take 1-2 years to achieve on your way to the major end goal. Brainstorm what specific goals will help you reach your final goal and how to measure progression to achieving said goals. Don’t feel confined to 5-10 annual goals. Depending on your situation and career dream could comprise any number of stepping stone goals. Each year you should review these annual goals according to your defined metrics to see if your progress is plateauing. If that’s the case, it may be time to re-evaluate your goals or look for alternative paths to achieving your goal. You may also want to engage a professional who can help you evaluate and revise your career plan. EWF International offers professional career transition and coaching services to help women achieve their career goals. You can find more information about EWF coaching services in this article on How to Make Career Coaching Work for You.

Get Granular with Specific Steps

At this point, you should have what you want to achieve in the next 1-2 years. Review the first career goal on the roadmap to achieving your career dream. Make a plan to achieve your first goal. What is the first step; what immediate target goal can you work on right now to achieve your annual goal? How can you measure the success or failure of your immediate target goal? After you achieve that goal, what is the next step? Continue this process of question and answer to turn your goals into an action plan for the year filled with action steps.

Career Goal Accountability

Accountability is one of the biggest factors for determining if you are going to achieve your goals. Accountability comes in two variations: internal and external. Internal accountability is about driving yourself to work the steps of your plan. One way you can increase your internal accountability is by creating motivation through a reward system for working your steps. Create an immediate reward and foster positive reinforcement for working on your career goals.

Another example of internal accountability is the “Don’t Break the Chain,” method purportedly used by Jerry Seinfeld. Each day you work your action steps to achieving your goal, you mark a big red X on a prominent calendar. As you work on your career goals you will start to build a chain of X’s, the visual representation of your progress will drive you to keep the streak going. As the chain gets longer you will find yourself not wanting to “Break the Chain.”

External Career Goal Accountability

Sometimes it’s easy to let yourself weasel out of doing something difficult, uncomfortable, or time-consuming. Having an external force hold you accountable has long been tied to improved performance. External accountability is just one of the reasons EWF International Executive Forum and Business Owner Forum members find so much value in their peer advisory groups. When you know other people have an interest in your progress and are tracking your efforts, you’re going to work more frequently and harder towards your goals. Find a peer, a colleague, or join a group that can help provide you the encouragement, expertise, and accountability to achieve your career dreams.

Your 2021 Career Goals and EWF International

What is your career dream for the next 5-10 years? Were you able to break your dream down into concrete career goals and a plan with actionable steps for 2021? If you find yourself struggling with your career desires or you’re unsure how to get where you want to be, EWF International is here to help. EWF supports women at all career stages. Our Emerging Leaders program helps early- and mid-career women develop the business acumen and skills needed to enter leadership positions. EWF also offers personalized career coaching and career transition services in addition to our executive and business owner peer advisory forums. Contact EWF International to see how we can help you achieve your career dreams.