How to Prioritize Your Career Objectives in 2015

Career Plans for the New Year

It’s the new year and you’ve set a list of career goals for yourself which is realistic, achievable, and measurable. Great! Now comes the hard part.

Accomplishing your goals requires hard work, motivation, and focus—and focus means setting priorities and not taking on too much, so you can concentrate on the work that really matters. Here are 6 steps to help you prioritize and achieve big things in 2015.

1. Separate your short-term and long-term goals.

If you’ve set solid goals, some will be long-term—setting out your aims over the next few years—and others will be short-term, focused on the near future. Each of your short-term goals should marry up with one of your long-term goals—and if not, ask yourself why it’s on your list.

2. Rank your long-term goals.

Your long-term goals will help decide what you do this year, so think about them first. Ranking these is about your ambitions, your values, and what you want from life. Two key questions to ask are:

  • What long-term goals are most important to me? What you would feel happiest 10 years from now, or at age 80, knowing you’d achieved? That’s goal number one. Rank your goals in order of their importance to you.
  • What long-term goals am I trying to achieve right now? Not all of your long-term goals may be relevant in 2015. For example, it might be really important to you to start a family one day, but currently you’re focused on your career.

3. Break down your short-term goals.

Break tasks down into the smallest, simplest units possible. A big-sounding task can appear harder than it is. “Save $5,000 this year” looks daunting, but “save $100 a week” seems more manageable, and gives you a sense of how to do it.

4. Rank your short-term goals.

Using your ranking of long-term goals relevant to 2015, plus your list of simplified goals, you can start prioritizing for the short term.

There’s no science to prioritizing short-term goals. but these are the key things you should be thinking about:

  • Importance of the underlying long-term goal. Tasks that advance your most important long-term goals should have priority, unless there’s some good reason to do something else first.
  • How easy the goal is to achieve. If it’s really simple to do now, why not do it now? Being able to check things off a list will give you momentum and motivation.
  • When it’s practical to tackle the goal. Some goals may be important, but require resources such as time or money that you don’t have immediately. Hold off on those goals until you can give them the attention they need.
  • Motivation. Motivation is a tricky thing. Will doing enjoyable tasks energize you to tackle harder tasks, or are you better off getting the hard stuff out of the way? Don’t prioritize like a robot—understand how you work.

5. Cut the bottom of your list.

You might have a short, tightly focused list—but I doubt it. And if not, give serious thought to why the lowest-ranked goals are there at all. Are they not achievable? Just not that important? If not, do they really belong on your list at all? Remember: focus is about what you don’t do as much as what you do.

6. Check progress regularly.

People often set goals and fail to check back at how they performed. Don’t be that person: if you’re on track to achieve your goals, reward yourself (with a pat on the back at the very least). If not, ask yourself why not, and reprioritize and reframe

If any of your 2015 goals involve a new career or retraining, be sure to look at our career pages for more information on your next step. Best of luck achieving everything you want and making 2015 your year!

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