‘New year, new you’ – many people are deciding to make 2015 the year that they follow their dreams and really start taking steps towards forging the career that they want. There is so much you can do in a year but without the right goals and actionable steps, if could be difficult to make a headway.

If you are interested in making a complete change of career, it’s important to start planning ahead of time. If your career is at a standstill and you no longer get any satisfaction from your work, or the job market for those working in your field has taken a nosedive, it may be time to make a career change. These are a few tips to help you set – and achieve – your career goals this year.

1. Figure out exactly what you want to do

Are you already in your dream industry, but just not the right role yet? Or do you want to branch out and do some study or change industries? You can pursue a graduate course to prepare yourself.

Some of the best master’s degree courses to choose if you want a high-paying job include finance and economics, telecommunication engineering, master of engineering, electrical engineering, and computer engineering. It can be difficult to work out what you want to achieve if you haven’t spent some time soul searching to establish what you truly want. Do some research into your desired role or industry and what you need to do in order to start working towards breaking into it or advancing from where you are now.

2. Work out why you want these goals

Understanding the ‘why’ can be a really good strategy to help you set and achieve realistic goals – and feel good when you achieve them. Is it because you want recognition? More money? More esteem? Whatever your motivator, you need to be able to identify it if you want your goals to work for you.

3. Set your own KPIs

Why not give yourself some targets to try to achieve this year? No doubt you have performance expectations from your current employer, but now it’s time to set some for yourself. Maybe you want to manage a project or take on a higher duty. Work out what you’d like to accomplish and talk to your manager about strategies and plans to help get you working towards it.

4. You could speak to a professional (if you want to change careers)

If changing jobs is in your plans, don’t wait for the right role to be advertised. The right recruitment consultant don’t just exist to post job ads and screen candidates for employers. When they know what you’re looking for, they can match you to potential positions before they are even formally advertised. You can find out more about how a recruitment agency can assist via online resources like the Chandler Macleod website.

5. Be flexible

You’ll need to be flexible about nearly everything – from your employment status to relocation and salary. Set positive goals for yourself, but expect setbacks and change – and don’t let these things get you down. You’re 99.9 percent guaranteed to bump up against fear. It just comes with the territory. Besides totally new careers, you might also consider a lateral move that could serve as a springboard for a bigger career change. You might also consider starting your own business or consulting as other avenues. Keep your options open.

6. Get time off to rest/relax in the process

No matter how driven you are to achieve and succeed, you run the risk of burning out if you put too much focus on working hard towards a professional goal. Make sure you have a bit of balance and take some time to focus on things you enjoy too. Recreation and relaxation are important to the most successful of business people, so make them a priority in your year’s goal setting too.

The desire to make a perfect balance between work and personal life is a huge factor in every career decision. Every decision you make can get you closer to that balance or take you farther away from it. Its you call and it has to be right. The good news is that you can equally make a good transition to another career when planned well.

Whether you want to study or move into a managerial position at work etc., it’s important that the goals you set for yourself are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART). With any goal setting and achieving, following the SMART formula is essential; vague plans rarely come to fruition.

What are your career goals for 2015? How are you going to make sure that you achieve them? Share in the comments below.

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