Career & Finance

7 Career Goals You Can Set Now & Accomplish By Year-End

written by SYDNEY COX
career goals"
career goals
Source: Alaina Kaz
Source: Alaina Kaz

We’re halfway through the year, which is… wild. For many of us, the year’s halfway point is when our initial burst of motivation to kick ass in our careers slows down or wears off altogether. In my case, I entered this calendar year with clear career goals, but lately, I’ve noticed that my progress has slowed down immensely. Maybe you’re like me, or maybe you’re the total opposite: Someone who has already crushed their goals from the top of the year and is excited to set more (go you!). Maybe you land somewhere in the middle and your initial plans need some tweaking, or maybe you didn’t set any goals at all and could use a little push to avoid a mid-year slump.

Regardless of where you are today, here’s the good news: There’s still plenty of time to make strides in your career this year. Instead of falling into the trap of coasting or thinking, “I’ll try again next year,” now is the time to re-evaluate what you want and how you’re going to get it. Whether you’re looking to uplevel your career, set additional goals, or just need a little motivation to kickstart the second half of the year, here are seven goals that you can set now and accomplish in the next six months.

1. Learn a new skill

One of the most effective ways to stand out for a promotion, become more valuable in the workplace, and expand your experience is to develop a new skill. Luckily, depending on the skill you want to learn, nailing a new one doesn’t have to take long, which makes it a great mid-year goal to set. Online platforms like Coursera and Hubspot offer a wide range of free and low-cost courses you can check out and sign up for.

You can find courses specifically geared towards general professional and life development like DEI work or pick up job-relevant skills like data analysis, email marketing, or public speaking. Completion of these courses often results in a certificate, which can be added to your resume, immediately! I completed a digital marketing course when I was initially applying for marketing jobs and later added it to my resume. I truly credit my current full-time position to that addition!

Thankfully, you can do most courses on your own time and at your own pace, so you don’t have to worry about them overwhelming your current workload. It’s entirely possible to complete at least one course by the end of the year—and maybe even a few if you have the time. Search the online platforms mentioned previously or check out your company’s resources to see what you can complete before year-end! The more skills you have at your disposal, the better.

2. Establish a mentorship

Many companies offer internal training programs relevant to their specific employees’ trajectories, but if you’re interested in more one-on-one work, finding or becoming a mentor is something to look into! The right mentoring relationship can help you excel in everything from professional growth to work-life balance and more, and you can definitely make this happen before the end of the year.

Finding a mentor

If you’re interested in finding a mentor, begin by getting clear on your goals, identifying how someone could help you reach them, and thinking about who that person could be. Who has the job, responsibilities, or skill set you’d like to have in 5, 10, or 15 years? Make a list of the people you’re visualizing and do your research on their careers. Then, set up an informal meeting with a few people you look up to. After you’ve met with a few, decide who is the best fit to help you with your career goals and formally ask them to be your mentor. Be clear about why you want to learn from them and what you admire about their work. Then, you can work on what your mentor relationship will look like: how often you will meet, how they will assist you, and more.

Becoming a mentor

If you’re serious about becoming a mentor by the end of the year, assess what you can offer to a mentee before jumping in headfirst. Once you’ve identified the areas you’d like to help someone grow (think: workplace confidence or a specific career skill), start letting people know you’re available. Use platforms like LinkedIn or professional forums to spread the word or reach out to friends and colleagues who can recommend you to their professional networks. Once you’ve found a mentee that you feel confident about, establish regular check-ins and determine what you both hope to achieve out of the mentorship.

Both having or becoming a mentor can help you grow through uncharted territory in your career, fill the gaps in your knowledge and resume, network with potential opportunities, and push you toward achieving your goals. Not only can you establish these relationships within a few weeks or months, but they can serve you throughout your entire career.

3. Join (or create) a committee

Are you interested in getting involved in the workplace? Set a goal to join a committee by year-end! Not only can being a part of a committee improve your skills but it can expand your network and increase your visibility within your company. (A little face time with the higher-ups never hurt anyone!) I’m the Co-chair of my company’s Employee Relations Committee, and I’ve already seen improvements in how I approach my day-to-day job—like how much more comfortable I am leading team meetings. Ask your manager what committees are available to you and choose the one that sounds the most interesting and beneficial.

If none of the existing committees sound particularly interesting, create a new one to benefit a different need within the company! Start by talking to your coworkers to gauge needs and interests before jumping in. (You don’t want to start one that no one thinks will be beneficial or would care to join.) Is there a desire for social activities like after-work happy hours? Create a social committee. Are there concerns about workplace culture that aren’t being addressed? Form a Culture Committee. Once you’ve identified a need and a direction, reach out to your HR department for institutional support, choose a leader (or a chair) to ensure it functions effectively, invite people to join, and set your first meeting!

When it comes down to it, committees often play a crucial role in changing company policies and contributing to a better workplace. By joining or creating one before the end of the year, you will not only scratch your itch to get more involved but also bring a little bit of spark to that desk job, which we could all use from time to time.

4. Organize a professional event

Maybe your company’s events are a total bore and could use help coming to life. Or, maybe you’re interested in pushing the culture of your industry forward and think an event could be the way to do that. Either way, setting a goal to organize an event (or help organize one) before the end of the year is completely doable. You can start small and offer to help with your company’s holiday party or you can think big and organize a virtual industry meet-up. Whatever you choose to do, organizing an event could benefit you in more ways than one. You will network with others throughout the planning process, strengthen your time-management muscle, and even have a little fun along the way.

Talk to your manager (or colleagues in your network if you’re self-employed) about your interest in organizing an event by year’s end, and present your ideas! They will likely be able to help you get started or point you in the direction of someone who can help you bring your event to life. Or, they might even want to get involved themselves! You never know—this could become your new favorite way to get involved at work. No matter what, events have the opportunity to seriously move the needle in your industry and your professional career, so get started planning one now!

5. Strengthen an area of weakness

Are you bad at getting to know your co-workers outside of team meetings? Set a goal to attend at least one happy hour a month. Maybe pulling stats reports takes you longer than you’d like it to. What small changes could you implement to shave even a few minutes off your usual time? One of my goals is to become comfortable and efficient at processing invoices, so I process at least one per day and am already seeing improvements in my ability to complete them.

Make a list of actionable steps you can take between now and the end of the year to tackle your area(s) of weakness. For example, if your goal is to work on expanding your professional network, what does that look like in reality? You can research upcoming industry events in your area or roundtables that are digitally accessible, and make a plan to attend at least one every month between now and December. Hold yourself accountable to these events as if they are required job responsibilities, and determine the kinds of connections you want to make while at them.

Taking small, actionable steps strengthens your growth mindset and yields real-time results. You can’t overcome something you don’t work on. Setting mini challenges for yourself throughout the rest of the year is an amazing way to approach your goals.

6. Streamline a process (or create one)

Everyone has dealt with a process that leaves you feeling frustrated and saying, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” Dealing with a less-than-efficient process can leave you dreading work responsibilities on the daily, and we can’t have that feeling getting in the way of our career goals. Set a goal to identify and streamline a process that isn’t working for you, or create one that doesn’t currently exist by the end of the calendar year.

Allow yourself a small amount of time to tweak it every day and explore alternative options until you nail the new process. (Just make sure to talk to your manager or warn your team before you start messing with the existing flow). It won’t be perfect at first, but small improvements over time yield big results. Strengthening individual or company-wide processes will not only benefit your workflow, but it is great to point out when it comes time for a promotion or an upcoming interview. It shows you’re able to think outside of the box, problem-solve, and increase efficiency. Since some processes are easier to tackle than others, you might only have the time to overhaul one big one before year-end or you might be able to tackle a bunch of tiny processes.

7. Find a new job

Finding a new position or role right now can feel like an uphill battle. Between layoffs and hiring freezes, in the words of Olivia Rodrigo… it’s brutal out here. But if you’re dreaming of a new challenge or want to take on a new career path, don’t wait. Start by reflecting on your goals and strengths and researching industries and target roles that you’re interested in. Are the positions you’re looking at ones that you’ve already built the skill set for? Do you need to supplement with a course before applying?

Next, revamp your resume and update your digital presence. Your portfolio and website should always be up to date, especially in the midst of a job search. Finally, increase your activity on LinkedIn and begin firing out applications. Relying on your professional network is a great way to learn about open job opportunities and manifest your dream position.

All of these things can take some time to do, especially if you’re working full time, but set a goal each week or month to work on your job search. Whether you need to work on a skill for a new role or you need to network more to find opportunities, hold yourself accountable! Set deadlines for yourself to do these things. By the end of the year, you’ll be closer to landing your dream job. Or, if you’re lucky, you’ll already have a shiny new title you’re proud of.