7 Professional Resolutions for The New Year

Progress is incremental, so start small and build on what you achieve as you improve yourself.



3 years ago | 5 min read

Many resolve to improve themselves in some way in the new year: get a promotion, make more money, spend more time in the gym. So many things to commit to doing, or maybe even stop doing.

Career goal setting takes time, thought, and strategy. Small, simple changes lay the foundation for major changes and transitions. Progress is incremental, so start small and build on what you achieve as you improve yourself and your quality of work over the course of the year. 

Here are 6 ways to advance your career goals in 2021:

1. Connect with more people

Meeting new people in your industry is what keeps you sharp, up-to-date and connected. Make this the year you proactively reach out to people in your network and strengthen old connections. If you’re looking for a job, who you know could help you find one so make it part of your job to know as many people as possible.

It depends on who you ask, but the percentages of people who find their current jobs through networking is astounding (50% according to some sources, 80% others).

Have people you know in the industry introduce you to their friends, support others in their professional endeavors, reach out or endorse someone you know on Linkedin. Have lunch once a week with someone you haven’t seen in a while. New Year’s is a great time to reconnect with people.

2. Learn a New Skill

Make it a career goal in 2020 to learn a new skill you can apply to your job. Mashable recommends the following as the top most-desired skills in today’s economy:

  1. Coding
  2. Excel
  3. Web development
  4. Copywriting
  5. Project management
  6. Public speaking
  7. Google Analytics
  8. Digital marketing

Learning a new skill is one of the best ways to advance your career. Identify one or two actions you can take, such as meetings you can attend, publications you can read, or courses you can learn to improve a certain skill. Plus, with all the free courses and resources online, education doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming.

There are plenty of online courses for professional development, many of them free.  You could consider a simple Udemy course on branding and marketing from Gary Vaynerchuk, or maybe you need to develop skills with a different programming language on Codeacademy. Also, you could learn coding from scratch with an online coding bootcamp.

3. Improve your personal branding

When your name pops up in a meeting, and people think of you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Commit to strengthening your online brand in 2020. First, make sure you own your domain name, whether that’s your personal or company name.

Also, spend time gathering the best examples of your work to post online. You can post samples on LinkedIn or your website or create a custom portfolio site. For example, is a free writing portfolio website that makes it easy to drag and drop in links or documents.

If you’re not intentional about this, people will build their impression of you based on their perceptions of the things you say and the things you do. If you’re looking to advance internally in an organization, all of those things add up when you’re being considered for a position.

Make it a point to actively manage the way people think of you by being deliberate when it comes to talking about your achievements and results

4. Create Multiple Income Streams

Perhaps you want to work for yourself, start a business or transition to a different field. A side hustle will get you there and also deliver much-needed cash to strengthen your financial position and make it easier to leave your 9 to 5, if you want to. 

Give this goal some serious thought, even if you’ve never considered it before. It’s a goal that could open the door to a lot of other goals. One of your passive income streams could be the part-time cash flow that enables you to semi-retire at an early age. It could also be used to help you pay off your debts or help fund your retirement savings. 

Ultimately, the purpose of improving your finances should be to provide you with independence in your life. That means that it should afford you the ability to do what you want when you want. If that isn’t one of the good financial goals, then I don’t know what is.

5. Monitor your progress

One way to stay on track of your goals, whether it is to meet more people in your industry or to be on time or to learn a new skill is to track your progress. Set small, incremental goals that can be achieved in a month or in a quarter. Your confidence will build as you see your progress on paper, and it will motivate you to keep up your good work. 

Think about goals you’ve reached in the past:

  • What made you successful?
  • Were there any key people supporting you?
  • Did you use a particular strategy to plan and organize your time?

Think about a time you failed, too:

  • What went wrong?
  • What did you learn from that situation?
  • How can you avoid, or at least lessen, some of the obstacles you encountered?

Gaining clarity about what motivates you and helps you succeed will help you build an effective plan for achieving your professional goals. 

6. Find Examples of Career Goals

Career goals are very personal and individual to your unique situation. If you want to get a promotion at work, investigate the degrees people have in the role you hope to move into. Look both at the “next step up” in your path as well as the position you eventually want to be in 5-10 years from now. 

For a career change - research individuals on LinkedIn and see what degrees brought them success. Informational interviews are a fantastic way to gain visibility into a new career or an industry you are not familiar with. Getting these insights will help you clearly define “what is a career goal” in this unknown field. Not only will you gain invaluable information, you also expand your network and may even get a job interview down the line.

7. Get Better at Time Management

Being organized allows you to be efficient, productive and focused. The first sign of an organized, serious professional is punctuality. Good, reliable professionals are not late for anything, and nothing signals to others that someone is disorganized and unprofessional than consistently being late. Force yourself to manage your time, to schedule enough time to get ready, get organized and arrive early. 

If you don’t make time to accomplish your goals. You won’t accomplish them. But it’s not only about making time for more goals; it’s about the ability to be more productive at your work. You’ll need to free up a few hours for strategic work or finishing more projects than you did the year before.

Listing time management as one of your professional development goals may seem small, but it actually will help you get more work finished.

This isn’t a full list of your professional goals but it’s a good start. Pick and choose the ones that are most important to you. This is your career and it’s important to set goals to help you reach success.

Your professional development goals and goal setting will depend on your specific situation and the state of your company. But hopefully this list will help you build your goals. Check out the Meratas blog for more professional goal ideas!


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