How To Set Your New Career Goals This Year

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Table Of Contents

I have a confession: I hate new years resolutions. They rely on motivation instead of systems and processes. Frankly, I’m not huge on goals in general. In my experience, 90% of goal setting is wrong because we set goals for the wrong reason.

As you’re reading this, I bet one of your career goals is to make more money next year, but are you clear on why? Will the pursuit of more money be worth the sacrifice?

My goal for you is to get you in better alignment between how you uniquely produce value at your best, and what you do for income.

So when it comes to our career goals we need a process to carve out time and focus to point ourselves in the right direction and then set up systems to make it easy, so we don’t have to rely on motivation. After all, the best plan is one you can adhere to. So here’s how I actually attack career goal setting for the beginning of a new year.

If your goal is a new job in 2024, there’s no better place to look than ZipRecruiter. I suggest starting here to get some ideas of the career growth that awaits you.

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The Career Goal-Setting System

First thing first. Let’s talk about what not to do. The biggest mistake most people make with goal setting, in general, is that they fool themselves. People set goals to get a promotion or make X more dollars. In actuality, those “wants” end up becoming traps.

Don’t create more traps for yourself. Instead, you need to be dead set that your goal is the right one, directionally, and for the right reasons.

Here’s how.

Start With What You DO NOT Want

If you already know what you want, skip this step. In fact, you probably don’t need to read this article. For the rest of us who need help figuring it all out, I’ve found the fastest way we can get clarity on what we do want is to use inversion, and ask the opposite question first.

Get clear about the tasks, feelings, time sucks, and B.S. that you do not want. Write it down. Then ask what would you be willing to give up in order to eliminate those issues.

Now, are you clearer about what you want? I’m betting you have different wants than when you started.

Map Your Advantages

The surest way to find success is to intimately understand where you as an individual have advantages, and then figure out how to use those advantages to the best of your ability.

Most career coaches either talk about strengths or passions. Making the subtle mindset shift to advantage will expand your view of yourself and your capabilities.

I believe there are 8 sources of advantage, and I teach students a discovery process to map these out. The sources of advantage are:

  1. Expertise
  2. Personality
  3. How you learn
  4. Areas of interest
  5. Energy
  6. Aptitudes
  7. How you take action
  8. How you make decisions

Explore each area, and get feedback from colleagues, friends, and peers to understand how your strengths give you advantage over others.

To learn more about Advantage Mapping, reach out to me on LinkedIn. I read every DM. You can also read more about my Advantage Mapping Foundations course.


Pull out the common themes. Are you using all of your advantages? Which ones could you exploit in new ways? Which ones have you been ignoring? What activities give you energy vs. suck energy from you? Where are your areas for growth?

The point of career goal setting should be to get you pointed on a path towards you using your natural advantages more to unlock your creativity, motivation and your best work. When you do that well, money, success and recognition will follow.

Try Out This Goal Statement Framework

Looking at your analysis, try to reframe some of your goals into this statement:

Long-term statement: “I ultimately want to be/do _[be SVP by age 40]_ because I will feel [accomplished as an organizational leader]_. I can get there by leveraging _[site your advantages]____.

Here’s my exact statement from 2018:

“I want to be self-employed by year-end because I need to control my freedom and be around for my family. I can get there by leveraging my digital marketing background, natural curiosity, and writing skills.”

Try out a few statements. It’s ok if you don’t know what your goal should be. The key question is are you directionally correct? Are you moving toward a better place in your career? I still had no idea how to become self-employed, I just was pretty sure I’d be happier doing that!

Create Your Options Portfolio

An options portfolio is 2-5 potential paths you could explore to take action toward your long-term goal. The truth is, when you set a huge goal, you never exactly know how to get there. The path that unfolds is often not what you’d expect.

When we are dealing with uncertainty, we need multiple options to make progress, try them, stick with what works and discard what doesn’t work.

For example, if your goal is to get a different job, you wouldn’t sit around all day researching the one perfect job and then apply once. To get the greatest odds of success, you’d figure out multiple ways to approach a hiring manager to get noticed. These are options.

Similarly, if your goal was to become self-employed, you could create three options. One is where you freelance on the side to gain some experience and test out self-employment, one is you explore building a new business from scratch as a side hustle, and one you envision raising money for a business idea with a co-founder.

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The next step in any career can feel very confusing. Most people who are confused about which direction to take inadvertently let worry and anxiety creep in to derail their plans. So they end up doing NOTHING. For years.

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Ask: What Is The Next Step?

This is the most powerful question in the execution phase of goal setting. For each option in your portfolio, ask “what is the next step?” continue to do this over and over, and you will become an execution machine.

If you landing a job is one of your career goals this year, start your search on ZipRecruiter!

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