# Goals

Starting January 1st, you were going to revamp your resume. Write a five-year plan. Bless your heart, you planned on going to networking events after-hours.

But halfway through 2017, all those goals are gathering just as much dust as your running shoes. Consider your career resolutions busted.

Even if you’ve fallen short of your expectations so far, you probably haven’t been mindlessly scrolling blogs all day, every day at work these last six months. Think back to some of your biggest professional highlights of the year. Maybe one of your marketing campaigns increased subscribers or response rates by a rid-ic-u-lous number. Maybe you covered for a coworker during her vacation and accidentally picked up some new transferable skills in the process. If you can’t think of anything concrete, remember times that you did a solid for your colleagues and make a mental note to hit them up for a reference later on.

At the six-month mark, it’s time to sell your successes. As much as possible, quantify everything that you achieved: your campaign increased traffic by X percent, you managed of team of Y people, etc. Add that information to your resume, LinkedIn, and other professional portfolios, and you’ll be in a position to show, not tell, how much you’re worth.

Especially when you’re securely established in your job, it can be easy to let networking become a passive activity. But you shouldn’t let your relationships go stale. Who knows when you’ll need to tap into your network, either for yourself or a friend? So add your recent business contacts as connections on LinkedIn. On the job hunt? If appropriate, ask your references for LinkedIn recommendations.

Even if you don’t anticipate switching jobs soon, reconnect with a professional contact over coffee or lunch. For the cost of a sandwich or drink, you’ll give yourself insurance in case something at your current job goes south. Not to mention that staying friendly and engaged in other people’s experiences usually makes life more interesting (if anything, it beats than another half hour at your desk).

What’s the difference between your vision board and your actual achievements? A solid, tangible plan. Let’s say that on New Year’s Eve, you told yourself that you were going to seriously, for real this time, start your side hustle. But after your first busy day back at work, you went out for happy hour instead. Rinse, repeat, and six months later, you’ve barely started.

Dreaming is easy. Executing on those dreams? Much harder. Add some accountability to your goals with the five-part SMART goals system.
Be Specific
How can you get where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re going? It’s like planning a cross-country road trip, ignoring Google Maps and just, like, kind of driving west.

When your goals are vague, e.g., “Blog more,” it’s easy to cheat on them. After all, what does “more” mean? One more time a week? What exactly will you be posting? What tangible results do you need to see? Without asking yourself those questions, you could theoretically call anything a success—even if it hasn’t actually furthered your professional goals.

So instead, replace “less” or “more” with concrete numbers and paint as clear a picture of your endgame as possible. For example, plan to post two more times per week or retweet your favorite influencers once weekly. Envision your fancy blog in all its glory. Easy enough.

Your professional, brand spanking new blog may make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it’s no use to your career unless you pay attention to its traffic. So similarly to the “specific” requirement, put some numbers behind your plans. For example, aim to increase your pageviews by X percent per month or attract Y new sponsors. Those numbers will allow you to set goals and compare your progress to past and future months.

Everyone loves an underdog story, but there’s no use wasting your precious time and energy on a goal that’s certain to fail. Two questions to ask yourself here: Are you realistically able to reach your goal, and are you willing to do the work necessary to get there?

Going back to our blog example, consider whether or not you’ve got the bandwidth to add a side project to your load right now. After all, there’s a reason you haven’t done anything yet. So sit in a quiet room with some coffee and be real with yourself. Remember all of the times you’ve put off your project and try to recall what the voice in your mind told you at the time.

Did it sound more like, “I seriously can’t do this,” or “Yeah….nah”? Making that distinction will help you decide whether to postpone your passion project for a more manageable time. If you truly do have the resources to commit now, time for soul searching. What’s standing in your way? Fear? Laziness? Happy hour? (All of the above?) Before moving forward, consider whether you should redirect your energy toward something you’re more interested in committing to. Because seriously, life’s too short to waste time beating yourself up for things that, deep down, you’re only worrying about because some thinkpiece told you to.
Passion doesn’t pay the bills and blah blah blah. You’ll be selling your results on your resume, so judge your success by your results as well. We’re talking sales, revenue, views, or anything else that demonstrates your value.
Every goal needs a deadline. Obviously, your specific end date will depend on your situation, but for purposes of our conversation, it’s December 31, 2017. The exact date feels a little bit more pressing than “the end of the year,” right?

Exactly. By periodically measuring your work against a set deadline, you’ll create a sense of urgency for yourself. Hopefully, that alone motivates you into action. Use that to create a timeline for yourself with check-ins at certain dates, say, on August 31 and October 31. No, this won’t automatically inject you with motivation, but when you’re deciding between blogging and post-work drinks sometime in November, that time pressure could prove to be the deciding factor.

After six months, it’s time to assess where you stand and where you should proceed moving forward. But before making any moves, schedule a performance review to ensure that you and your boss are on the same page. If you’re seriously slacking right now, you probably won’t have the standing to expand outside your current role.

Take Notes
OK, you probably won’t want to remember negative feedback at all, much less write it down and relive the embarrassment later. But a written record of your conversation gives you a concrete roadmap to refer to in the coming weeks and months, regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

Ask For Examples And Advice
To address your mistakes (or, on a positive note, to keep killing it at work), you first need to understand exactly what it is you’re doing. Are your mistakes part of a pattern? Are you working too quickly? Are you misunderstanding a certain process or procedure? Concrete examples won’t cure your allergy to coding or improve your presentation skills in one day, but they can help you avoid your trouble spots moving forward.

Don’t Defend
It’s tempting, particularly if you have one of those irrational managers ripped out of Devil Wears Prada who’s not pleased by anything. Do take the high road, though. Send her an email thanking her for her time and recapping key points from the conversation. Unless you can prove that your manager is wrong on a specific point through tangible evidence, you’re more likely to damage your reputation (and exhaust yourself) than to change your manager’s mind in a meaningful way.

You’re rolling your eyes at your screen right now. Like, I know. If it were that easy, this site probably wouldn’t exist. But what better time than the mid-year mark for a reset? Think back to the career resolutions you set before New Year’s, look ahead to your dream job next year, five years, 10 years from now.

What SMART goals will you need to get from here to there? Will it take a career change? Some more networking? Another degree? Reality checks are never easy to swallow, especially when we know we’ve wasted valuable time. But better to take that bitter pill today than another six months from now. So time to get started! After all, you’ve still got six months to make good on those goals (and still hit happy hour sometimes).

How are you doing on your career goals in 2017? Anything you want to work on in the second half of the year? Tell us below!

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