3 Career Goals for 2018

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by Jen Skrabak, PfMP, PMP

Happy 2018! Make this year your best yet! 

I know we’ve been hearing these phrases for several weeks now, but one thing still rings particularly true: There’s no denying the fresh-start effect of the new year. 

And with another new year comes new resolutions. 

Instead of resolution, I like goals better. Goals are things that we should strive toward — not just at the beginning of the year, but throughout.

Here are the career development goals I would challenge you to strive for this year:

1.   As you progress through your career, it’s less about collecting a paycheck and more about making choices as to where you’ll do your best work. Don’t oversell yourself. Instead, spend time to really understand the company, roles/responsibilities, team(s) you’ll be working with and how you’ll fit. 

Over the past year, I’ve interviewed a lot of people for senior level program and portfolio positions. I’ve noticed that many are focused on selling themselves for the job instead of thoughtfully understanding the role, assessing how their skills/experiences match up with the expectations and how they will be contributing. If it’s the right fit, then you should articulate why. If it’s not the right fit, acknowledge that as well. Not every role or company is right for every person.

2.   We all know that your direct manager has a lot to do with your career success. As they say, people leave their managers, not the company.  Although you may not have the ability to change your managers, there are some things you can do to develop your career even when you work with a less-than-ideal manager:  

a.   Instead of worrying about what you can’t control, focus on what you can control. Don’t try to change people (such as your manager or team members). Instead, focus on roles and responsibilities. Most companies encourage candid conversations with your manager — be clear about what you would like to see differently about your role. For example, would you like to stretch yourself and have the opportunity to develop your skills in managing programs? Negotiation and influence are key leadership traits, and negotiating your role is a key component of career development.

b.   There is a common saying, “Dress for the job you want.” I say, “Manage yourself and your job for the next role.” When promotions happen, it typically means that you’ve already been doing the job for that next role. So, look at the job descriptions for the ideal role that you want (inside or outside of the company), and do an honest assessment of your gaps. Now that you know where you want to go (your ideal job), you need to know where you currently are (your current knowledge, skills and abilities). Then map out an action plan to get there.

3.   Do some new year’s decluttering and cleaning. Over time, I’m sure you have accumulated a lot of files, activities, commitments and even habits that you’ve been carrying around. Rather than assuming those are still needed, scrutinize what you actually need going forward, and be a bit relentless in simplifying and focusing on what you actually need.

Do you remember Thomas Guides? These were the definitive maps, especially for a car culture like Southern California where I’m based. It was a big event when the new year arrived, a time that also ushered in the new edition of the Thomas Guides. Now, our phones and Google Maps have made those guides obsolete. How many of the Thomas Guides (metaphorically speaking) do you still have around? Take a good look and do some ruthless cleaning.

What goals would you add to this list?

Posted by Jen Skrabak on: January 25, 2018 03:39 PM | Permalink

Comments (19)

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You pretty much cover all as you mentioned the very high level goals and for me, anything else would fall under any of those three goals that you've set.

Thanks for sharing this, Jen.
I would reflect on everything that has happened last year, good or bad. Were there things I wish I would have done differently?

I like the action plan and think that much of what you discuss could fall under that category. For instance, decluttering can certainly be part of the plan as well as considering your best fits and gap identification. It's probably more of a strategic vs. tactical review. Strategic is the overlall plan while the tactical are the supporting parts. If you have a sample action plan, it would be interesting to review and consider.

Already set in motion...I intend to add PMI-ACP...after my PMP in March

Some good points here Jen. I will follow some of this in 2018.

With the combination of a recent career move and the new year, the items mentioned have been some areas I've been looking at - both in reflection and planning.

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timed or Timely).

Thanks for sharing,
I would say Kaizen (continuous improvement) is important not only for plant it is also important individual SDA ( Skill Development Activities).

Inspiring post to start 2018. I strongly believe"your direct manager has a lot to do with your career success", I have experienced this myself. However having said so, we as project managers should constantly upgrade ourselves to have overall understanding of the technology, business domain and emerging project management practices to make yourself indispensable. All the others, paycheck and promotion will naturally follow, if you are indispensable

All - you're very welcome. So great to hear that many of you are already putting things in motion for 2018.

As for an action plan, I would make a table with the following columns: Goal (Remember to make it SMART), Tactics/Steps, Resources needed (people, financial, equipment), Measurement, and Due date.

Great article for any PM expert or beginner!

Thank for sharing

"focus on what you can control. Don’t try to change people "

I will take this statement as a motto for 2018

Great Post. Thanks for Sharing!

This is a great article. I found items 2a and 2b to be very relevant.

Thank you!

Good post ! Focus must be on what we are giving, not what we are getting. The later part is automatic. Thanks !

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