How to set your professional goals for 2019

At this time of year, I’m reminded of a history lesson at school and learning how January is named after Janus. He was the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, doorways and endings and had two faces – one looking to the future and one looking to the past.

As we look behind us before moving ahead to 2019, I’m going to share 10 career aspirations you’ll be able to keep this year.

Grab a piece of paper or open a new document file and jot down your answers. I find the only way to have any chance of new year goals or aspirations lasting to Easter and beyond is to make them visible, tangible and realistic.

I encourage you to hold yourself to account e.g. making promises to yourself in 30-day increments.

1: Personalise your goals

You don’t need to write reams or copy what others write. But do make them SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, time-bound.

Short on time? Try creating answers to these statements:

This month/year I will:

  • start…
  • stop…
  • continue… 

2: Invest time in self development

Will 2019 be the year you finally read that pile of books next to your bed? You can make it happen. Investing in your continuing professional development is essential to keep your skills fresh, knowledge up-to-date and to constantly grow. Podcasts, blogs, professional association’s publications and social media make this easier than ever. Start small, aim to read a blog post a week or book a month.

Once you’re in the habit, this becomes easy. For example, I listen to podcasts while getting dressed, it’s a part of my daily routine. Before you know it, you’ve listened to hundreds of podcasts over the course of a year. You could do this at a time that suits you e.g. walking a dog or on your commute.

3: Build your network

Who will help you achieve your career goals? Do you know the right people to help you make that next step? Building your network is essential for any Comms or PR professional to help your professional growth. As the saying goes, if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

I recommend joining Twitter chats e.g. #CommsChat at 8pm UK time on Monday nights, or the monthly #ICBookClub chat from CIPR Inside.

4: Develop inside and outside of your niche

My specialism is Internal Communication and every year I invest time, money and effort in learning as much as I can about it. But I recognise the need to expand my horizons and burst out of that “Comms bubble”, so every year I choose to learn about interrelated disciplines.

How can you do this in 2019? Look for conferences, Twitter chats, events, webinars and books that will not only help you appreciate the wider business world, but in turn deepen your understanding of your specialism and how it relates to others.

5: Choose self-care

What does your self-care and wellbeing routine look like for 2019? How can you invest time in creating space for you?

Working in Comms is incredibly visible for many practitioners, how can you build in time for wellbeing? Ideas include being offline, choosing to spend time outside away from devices or blocking time in your diary for an activity you love. How can you encourage your team to do the same?

6: Prioritise your mental health

What are your mental health habits like? It’s common to plan health goals for the year ahead, but what are your mental health goals?

Being aware of your mental health habits and triggers can help you set goals for the year ahead. What do you need to start/stop/continue to enable you to thrive this year?

7: Ask for help

What do you need help with this year? Write down the areas you’d like to develop in 2019. Who do you need to know to help you achieve them? You could consider joining a mentoring scheme, appointing a business coach or asking someone in your organisation to advise you.

Knowing what you want, then going for it, often requires asking other people for help.

8: Give help

Who could you help in 2019? Could you sign up to be a mentor with a professional association or is there someone in your organisation you think could benefit from your expertise?

Could you volunteer to speak on a webinar, via a careers fair or at a conference to share what you know? Could you offer a guest blog post opportunity to an aspiring PR pro?

9: Create time to think

In this ‘always-on’ world of Comms and PR, it’s common to get locked into a tactical cycle of delivery and not have time for strategic planning. How can you change this over the next 12 months? How can you block time in your diary to create time to think and plan?

10: Dream big

What will you be reflecting back on at this time next year? What will you have achieved in 2019?

Be bold, be brave and dream big.

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