Taking Charge of 2021

Goal Setting to Boost Your Career

I recently spoke to a young woman thrown off her game plan like many people this year.  She’s concerned about the job market and has many friends who are out of work.  She is employed, can pay the bills and yet she is ready for more.

So along comes December 31st , the time for resolutions, goal setting, and making plans for the year ahead.  Is this year somehow different?  Do we put a pause on making plans?   As a career coach and virtual friend I say from the heart, the answer is an unqualified NO.

Living the life of your dreams may seem out of reach now. So much of what used to define our life is locked down and out of our control.  It’s vital to remember that current disruptions are temporary.  You have more influence over the next twelve months than you think.

So, the next question, how do you declare intentions, pursue a journey of self-discovery, and even a career change against the backdrop of a global pandemic?  This blog will cover how to find new year motivation to set goals, why success requires planning, common success derailers, and a new way to measure personal success.

Goals are building blocks of Success

The essential purpose goals play in achieving success may be best illustrated through what happens in their absence.  Without a specific goal or goals, there can be endless drifting, unproductive reactionary energy spent on chasing one idea or another. Of course, goals can shift and change over time; that is expected when setting goals for success.  Make no mistake about it, movement in the first place occurs with setting sights on an outcome, something real that is meaningful to you.   The best goals are specific, action-oriented, and can be measured or monitored on an ongoing basis. These are the critical markers for setting goals and a course for success.   Marissa, who lives in  Tampa, Florida, is ready to explore a new part of the country and states this goal:  I want to think about relocating to another city.

What are the action steps?  How will it be measured/monitored? Could it be more specific?  With a little more detail, Marissa can advance her vision into reality.

Goal for Success:  This year I want to consider relocating to either Nashville, Chicago or Dallas.  I will connect with people who live there, read about those cities and job opportunities, and create a journal about what I learn. 

The steps are exact, progress is trackable through journaling, and relocation is specific to a few cities.

Success Planning, Beliefs and Values

Goals that are clearly defined, monitored, and action-oriented are the launchpad for creating success through planning.  Untethered goals can create a win/lose set up.  By focusing on the plan, Marissa creates the space and place to explore options and make the best decision about moving away.

Three questions and journaling topics to ask about your plan:

  1. Does this plan align with my values and beliefs?
  2. What support do I need to activate the plan?
  3. How will I hold myself accountable?

Let’s look at the fundamental role values and beliefs play in goal setting and success.  Values are intangible.  They are not something we do or have.  For example,  travel is something you do.  It supports the value of adventure and learning.   Beliefs are the absolute truths established about yourself and the world around you. Beliefs are formed early and influenced by family, religion, people with whom we associate and experience. Your beliefs guide your decision-making and response to life events.

Jackson’s professional goal is to make a career change from the service industry to an office setting.  He values time with his family at night and on the weekend. His current job at the restaurant presents a conflict.  He didn’t finish college and believes he isn’t qualified to work in an office.  Jackson’s belief is self-imposed and limiting.   How can he build a plan for success?

Action and Accountability

Your brain breaks down beliefs into enabling beliefs and limiting beliefs.   Enabling beliefs propel you toward success, while limiting beliefs often lead to failure. Take an inventory to make sure that your beliefs are moving you forward and not holding you back.

Let’s revisit Jackson’s situation and create a success plan built on enabling beliefs.

Jackson:  I want to change careers from the service industry to an office setting.

Let’s add specifics, monitoring/measuring, and action steps.

Goal for Success: I am ready for a career change.  I will update my resume to reflect my experience and talent.  I will talk to people about my intention for a career change, research 2-3 industries that interest me.  I will create a journal about what I learn and apply for 3-5 jobs a week in those industries.   A successful transition to a new industry will rely on Jackson’s ability to articulate strength and confidence,  built on what he believes about himself.

In addition to aligning values and beliefs to plans for success, you will need support.  For Jackson, support could be monthly check-ins with a mentor,  a writing service to update his resume and LinkedIn account, and scheduled time each week to submit applications and research opportunities.  It’s essential to write down the resources needed to support and follow your plan.  Otherwise, plans aren’t worth the ink and paper it took to create them.

To hold himself accountable, Jackson can create a timeline and summarize monthly activity.  Another idea is to partner with a friend to share success plans and progress reports.

Measuring and Monitoring

This is the step to truly test that you are focused on what matters to you.  Both Marissa and Jackson have set goals that will produce real growth rather than only activity/busy-ness.   Are your aspirations an opportunity to develop greater insight and capacity?  Or repeating an established accomplishment?

Measure progress by engagement and follow-through to the plan, not results.  Growth occurs whether or not the desired result happens.  Marissa and Jackson will experience a year of self-discovery whether or not they relocate or change careers.  Establishing goals with the potential of living the life of your dreams involve significant achievement.   Significant achievement necessitates a learning curve that will likely test your patience and resolve.


The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself.  The compelling force for happiness and success in your life is you and only you.  Be intentional about the journey you wish to take—Aim high.

Taking charge of 2021 means taking charge of the only things ever in our control, our personal goals, how we think about them, and what we do to make them happen.   I wish you the courage, confidence, faith, and optimism to follow the inspiration and possibility calling, wherever it may lead.  Happy New Year!