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Keep your professional goals from fizzling

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2016 goalsHas your New Year’s resolution to build your career already fizzled? If so, chances are you didn’t have a strong plan to keep it going.

Making a plan gives you a roadmap to best identify your development goals and build the skills you need.

The first step is to establish a clear goal, says Juan Antonio Ruiz-Hau, senior vice president of strategic learning for Sure People, a learning and devel­­opment platform. “Skill-building, training and education are all a means to an end, so the question you need to ask yourself first is, what’s the end?”

Once that’s set, here’s how to make a plan to see it through.

  1. Identify what you need. Don’t get training just for the heck of it—figure out what you need to get to the next step in your career. If you’re aiming for a promotion, look at positions up the ladder and the qualifications they require, says Kate Culligan, career strategist and performance coach. Talk to professionals who have the positions or skills you want, and ask them what training would most enhance your own experience.
  2. Make your case. You’ll probably need some buy-in from your manager or someone else who holds the purse strings. Connect the dots, Culligan says. Show your manager how this “new and improved you,” with a freshly minted certificate, will improve outcomes for the company and department.
  3. Create accountability. Once the goal and the path to attaining it are clear, commit to the endeavor, Ruiz-Hau says. Make it your personal mission to finish the training or class and keep your supporters—particularly your manager—involved with progress reports. Doing so can keep you on track and inspired if the going gets tough.
  4. Review success. Once you achieve your goal, Ruiz-Hau recommends debriefing the process with your manager. Highlight what you achieved and talk about any lessons you learned along the way, he says. “Over time, help your manager feel good about the decision to support you by demonstrating how the new skill or ability has benefited the work of the team or the organization.” This talk can help position you for another round of development when you’re ready.

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