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Seven Tips for Setting and Reaching Goals for Your New Career, in the New Year

Updated on January 28, 2014
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Dr. Middlebrook is a fiction/non-fiction writing coach, author (pen name Beax Rivers), virtual trainer, and former university professor.

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New Year, New You?

This Hub provides 7 valuable tips to help anyone who might want or need to start over in a new job or career. Since you've been given a New Year, why not use it to get nearer to your goals?

Are you one of us? Someone who knows, without a doubt, that it's time for a career or work "new beginning"? Are you ready to "gear up" to change your life in exciting and/or dramatic ways? Is this your time to begin working on achieving a reality that more resembles what you know now, more than ever, that you want your life to be?

When it comes to what we do for a living, a lot of us are finding the need (or maybe simply the desire) to start all over again. As we approach the beginning of yet another New Year, perhaps there has never been a better time to start the process of starting over. No matter your age or work status (employed, unemployed, or underemployed), if you want to, you can begin again.

I'm not ashamed to tell you, starting all over is something I’m engaged in now. This Hub Pages article, in many ways, is a love letter from me to me. Writing it is giving me a reason to do some research on starting over, and doing the research is providing me with the self-motivation I need to get going with my plans. In other words, writing about starting over is underscoring for me the fact that I can do it, and that's why I'm sure that you can too.

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Starting Over: The Rest Of Your Life Begins Now . . .

You know where you've been, and now it's time to think about how you can use where you are now to make goals and plans to get you where you want to go from here. Have you taken the time to think about or to set some preliminary goals for starting over? Doing so will help a lot, because you're going to need goals to move you into the next stage of your life.

Do this, for me, right now. Just off the top of your head, say out loud what you want out of your next job. Did you say you'd like to do something to help others in a significant way? Or that you want to earn more money, or to have a better work-life balance? Guess what, it doesn't matter what you said, only that you said something. All you're doing right now is being certain that your mind is made up, and that you truly want to start over. That's the first ingredient; the most important thing. Everything else comes later.

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It'll Take More Than A New Year's Resolution, But You Can Get There From Here . . .

Don't fret thinking about how hard starting over might be. Instead, set your mind to believe it's possible for you to do it, because you know you must, in order to achieve the success you want in life. It might not be easy, and it might take quite a bit of time, planning, and effort. But the bottom line is, you can do it, you know you can. Now, here are seven tips that helped me get started, and I hope they will help you too.

Tip #1: If you don't already have one, start a journal (our use your word processor to create a journal file). Writing will help you to begin thinking about what you want or plan to do with the rest of your life. It doesn't have to take much time. Begin with a mere ten or 15 minutes a day, writing down what you want to do (or what you might think you want to do), and the steps you know you'll have to take in order to accomplish your goals. You can revise your thoughts as you go along, so don't think you have to know everything about what you want to do before you start your journal. There is just something about writing down your thoughts that can help to move you from a state of inertia (doing nothing), to a place where you are developing and acting on plans and goals.

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Tip #2: Maybe the spark is lit, but you still don't know exactly what you want to do. You know you're not happy with what you're doing now, so you probably have a pretty good idea about what you don't want to do. That's good! Use it as a starting point. Now, from here begin thinking about your skills, personality, interests, and experience. Make a list of all you bring to the table when it comes to job/work/career. Doing this will bolster your confidence by bringing you face-to-face with all the strengths you will bring to a new job/work/career.

Tip #3: Accept that you have challenges/areas of weakness, and vow to make improvements. Maybe there are things about you that you know you need to fix as you begin again. Are there things about your work habits, your personality, and ability to communicate--verbally or in writing, that could be improved? No one is perfect, so admitting you have weaknesses doesn't mean you don't also bring wonderful things to the table as well. But, if you're aware of where you need to improve, you can get to work on making those improvements, and then you'll feel even better about yourself as you begin the process of starting over.

Tip #4: If you believe in the teachings of a religion, now is a good time to use the wisdom, understanding, motivation, inspiration it provides. As a Christian, the Holy Bible helps me through all the ups and downs of my life. If you're a believer, read about what your religion has to say about work, and how you should think about your work.

It's important to gain satisfaction and fulfillment from what you do for a living. Being part of a community of believers that depend on prayer to strengthen faith, as well as to reach out to a higher power for praise and worship, can help in conquering many of the challenges of life.

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Tip #5: Acknowledge that starting over is going to be tough. We all like things that are "easy," but, unfortunately, not everything in life is. Some things are of moderate difficulty, and other things are downright hard to do. Starting over in your career/work life can be one of the hardest things to do because it requires a lot from you. In many ways, you're leaving your old life and starting new. You have to let go of a lot of your past, including who you once were. But if you know you're not satisfied/happy or not making a good living for yourself with what you're doing now, then starting over might be what you need to do, no matter how tough it is.

Music to start over with. Starting all over is tough, whether it's a relationship, or a job. This sentiment is underscored, well, through this song.

Resources to Help Anyone Find a New Career

What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles, Do What You Are by Barbara Barron-Tieger, and The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel H. Pink are excellent resources that might help you put your best foot forward as you start over.

Tip #6: A work/career life makeover is what you're preparing to achieve. Here's another quick test you can use to help you decide where to go from here: If money were not a consideration, what would you change about what you do for a living? If you did not have to work primarily to earn money, what work would you do, simply because you love it? Would you want to work for an employer? Think you might be be happy offering your services as a consultant? Or, could it be the right time to start your own work-from-home business?

If you're no longer working in your old job/career, don't wait too long between jobs. Start testing the waters for the work/career you want. Begin networking through friends, then, perhaps through friends of friends, and so on, in an attempt to get as close to people in your new career/work area as possible. If a geographic move is in order, begin making the plans you'll need to make to move. The point is to do all you can right now to begin preparing mentally and physically for starting all over.

Tip #7: Make up your mind that this year is going to be your year for getting yourself in gear. It might take a while to start over in your career/job, but you have to begin the process somewhere. Not everything has to be in place for you to begin making plans. Just jump in and begin wherever you can. And remember, it's okay (and good) to acknowledge challenges that you will face along the way, but be careful not to accept excuses from yourself or to allow other people to talk you out of making changes you want to make. Friends, even well-meaning ones, might not want to see you become someone different--even as it pertains to what you do for a living. Since you want to change jobs, they might feel that you'll soon want to change friends too. Provide reassurance where necessary, but don't be derailed from your plans if your mind is made up about starting over.

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With Changes Come Challenges

As you prepare to begin thinking more about what you want to do for a living, remember that change is going to be your constant companion. After all, it is true that "if nothing changes, nothing changes."

Now is the time to begin thinking about the changes you'll have to face as you start over. Consider whether or not you want to remain in the same field, type of job or industry, or if you're ready to change everything, completely. Maybe you're looking for a big change, something completely different from what you've been doing for the past 10, 15, or 20 years. If your current job (or last job) did not make you happy, think about what things you disliked most about it. Then, use that to help you decide what work/career might be a better fit for your interests, talents, and skills.

If you're serious about starting over, one thing you're going to have to accept that you will be facing a lot of change. It might help to think about how, after you begin starting over, you'll meet new people, encounter new challenges, discover new strengths, learn new skills, and gain new experiences. Because, in many ways, starting all over means leaving behind many parts of the person you were, in order to become the person you want to be.

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD

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