It’s a brand new year, and with that comes a blank slate full of possibilities. Many people immediately think about setting resolutions to hit the gym more, revamp their dating life, or start saving for a big goal. These are all great goals to set, but one area you shouldn’t overlook when it comes to setting goals for the year is what you want to accomplish in your career. Often, career goals can seem intimidating because they can take a while to accomplish and require some deeper strategic thinking, but once you’ve set a big goal you can break it down into smaller goals that can be easier to accomplish month over month.
Whether you’re brand new to the “real world” and are looking for your first opportunity or have been climbing the ranks for years, there’s almost certainly a new career goal you can add to your list for 2023. In no particular order, here are some goals I’ve set for my career in the past that you might want to consider!
If you’re ready for a big change: Get hired at a great company
Whether you’ve recently graduated or have been working for a while and are feeling a pull towards a new role, the start of the new year can be just the motivation you need to shake things up and focus on getting hired at a great company. I say a great company and not just any company because we want to set the bar high and get exactly what we deserve in 2023! A great company can be different based on what you’re looking for, your industry, and your location, so this is totally subjective based on your wants and needs.
If getting a new role speaks to you, you can break it down into more actionable steps and then set deadlines for each step. Micro goals could look like researching companies that offer the compensation and career challenges you’re after, reaching out to connections at those companies, and practicing interview questions. If you start at the beginning of this year and have your target list of dream companies ready for the end of January, you can give yourself the rest of the year to build those connections and hopefully receive an offer by December.
If you want to level up: Get promoted
Love your current company but feel ready to take on new challenges? The goal of getting promoted this year is for you. This is a great goal to set at the beginning of the year because it will give you lots of time to work on any areas you need to develop on your path to promotion. It also gives you time to research and work towards any certifications or courses that could help you jump to the next level.
Once you’ve set the goal to get promoted this year, be loud and proud about sharing your intentions at work. Set up a meeting with your manager or HR partner to chat about what a promotion timeline looks like for you. Coming out of that meeting, be sure to record any next steps or agreements made (pro tip: send an email to the relevant parties the next day to ensure you captured everything correctly and have a record of your convo). Then, take every opportunity to showcase the skills you need in order to get promoted, and schedule regular check-ins with your manager to ensure you’re on track.
Remember to keep a “Wins List” of your accomplishments to have as proof of everything you’ve done that year in service of getting promoted. My personal Wins List always includes key presentations I gave, any initiatives I started above and beyond my job description, and big wins my team had (as well as how I specifically contributed to them). I also include important metrics to tangibly show how I added value over the past year.
If you’re a manager (or want to be): Build your leadership skills
Let’s say you’re happy with your company and are killing it within your role, but you know you’re not quite ready for a promotion yet (or maybe you recently got one, in which case, yay you!). If you fall into this camp, a goal you could consider is increasing your leadership skills. Leadership skills are important for almost every job as you grow your career, whether or not you want to manage a team or department down the road.
Increasing your leadership abilities might look like owning more deliverables, taking a greater lead on team projects, or mentoring newer teammates. If you have a team reporting to you already, consider setting a goal of becoming a better manager, finding different ways to coach each of your direct reports, or creating opportunities to be seen as a leader outside of your immediate team.
Depending on whether you have a team already or not, your micro goals will look a little bit different. If you don’t have a team, take some time to identify areas where you could take on a bigger leadership role and speak to the necessary parties (likely your boss) to see if it’s a possibility. Mentoring a newer teammate could be formal or informal and might look like finding someone who could use support and offering yourself as a resource to answer questions, provide feedback, and give advice.
If you already manage a team, think about if there are courses you could take or books to read to become a better manager, speak to your boss about growing your team if there’s a need, or build out individual plans with each report to make sure you’re supporting them as best as you can. My career goal for 2023 is to become a better manager, so you’ll definitely find me researching some leadership courses this month!
If you’re up for review: Negotiate for the raise you want
There’s always a lot of buzz around the “New Year, New You” idea in January, but I propose we change that to “New Year, New Salary” because I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love a bit more cushioning in their bank account. If you’ve been with your company for a while or have a yearly review coming up soon, creating a plan for a salary increase might be the perfect goal to set. Oftentimes companies will go into raise discussions with a prepared budget increase of 3-7% of your salary, so if you want more than that you’ll need to take the time to prepare and state your case through negotiation.
If negotiating is a scary thought for you, make 2023 the year you face that fear and ask for what you want! You’ll first want to create a list of all the ways you’ve added value for the company since your last raise, along with any metrics you can provide (think along the lines of “I strategized and launched our TikTok channel which grew our yearly site visits from social media by 35%”).
Once you have your accomplishments, use online job boards, your network, and any salary publications to help you develop a target number that’s ambitious but still realistic. It can also be helpful to find similar job descriptions in states where salary transparency is required on the posting, such as California or New York, to use as a benchmark. Then, schedule a meeting with your boss and let them know you’d like to discuss your salary. Finally, put on your best hype music (I recommend Lizzo) and go get what you deserve! Remember, if the answer is unfortunately no, try to take that as a “not yet” and ask your manager what you’d need to do to receive the raise you want and what a realistic timeline would be to have the conversation again.
If you have an unexplored passion: Build a side hustle
If you’re in an industry where freelancing is common or you have a skill you know people will pay for, 2023 might be the year you think about finally starting a side hustle. You’ve heard it all before, but having an alternative source of income can be a great security blanket during challenging times, can provide extra funding for a big savings goal, or just give you a little bit of extra fun money (prepare to say yes to that cashmere sweater you’ve had your eye on!).
The first micro goal is to figure out what your side hustle is going to be (a bit of a key step!). You could try out freelance writing, selling your art on Etsy, coding websites for small businesses, managing social media for a local organization…the options are truly endless. You’ll want to pick something that has a good hourly rate for the time you’ll be putting in and has enough demand to warrant making it your niche. Your next goals should include researching any licenses or tax implications you need to be aware of (some states require you to have a separate business bank account, for example), determining how many hours you can dedicate per week, and then working on marketing yourself and getting some customers.
It might sound like a lot, but you can totally launch a profitable side hustle within a few months if you just dedicate a few hours to getting it up and running each week. Trust me, your bank account will thank you!