How to achieve career success in 2023

23 January 2023 Sharyn Waterworth

Career Success

​Did you know that only 8% of people who set New Year’s goals actually achieve them? That’s right — the number of people who achieve their well-intentioned goals by the time the end of the year rolls around is less than 1 in 13.

Why is this number so low?

Well, we often start with the best of intentions but without a clear roadmap to guide us, our goals tend to fall by the wayside. We get distracted, discouraged or don’t have the right support systems in place to overcome unexpected roadblocks.

The problem with not reaching our career goals isn’t only that we haven’t grown and challenged ourselves over the course of the year; it can also be detrimental to our self-esteem and motivation — making it even harder to dust ourselves off and try again.

So, if you’re serious about achieving your career goals this year, how can you make sure your vision becomes a reality?

How to achieve career success

  1. Map out your week

Once you’ve determined your goals; the hard part is building a roadmap to reach them. And the even harder part is staying on track.

Plenty of people stop after the initial ideation phase of goal-setting and then wonder why they failed.

You wouldn’t expect yourself to drive to Cairns without a map, so how can you expect yourself to achieve your goals without an action plan? Here’s how to make one:

  • Work your way backwards from your goal. What steps do you need to take to reach the end?

  • Set specific milestones to reach on your journey. This breaks up your bigger goal into more achievable actions.

    For example, you'd feel overwhelmed if you were writing a novel and your goal was to reach 80,000 words in 6 months. Instead, you would give yourself smaller word count goals along the way — like 13,000 a month, or 3,250 per week.

  • Once your goal is broken into smaller, more manageable milestones, you can start thinking about what your week and day-to-day will look like.

    If you’re pursuing professional development you could ask your manager if your Thursday afternoons (for instance) could be dedicated study time.

    And if you’re learning a new skill or pursuing a qualification outside of work, you’ll need to plan for when you’ll find the time to achieve it. Do you need to wake up an hour earlier? Can you watch lectures while you’re eating lunch or during your commute?

  • A new behaviour takes 66 days to become automatic, so for the first few months, you're fighting yourself when it comes to taking action to achieve your goal.

    Technology is your friend, and plenty of apps help with productivity. Even setting daily reminders can be incredibly helpful.

  1. Hack your brain to keep yourself accountable

The next phase is all about doing, and that means engaging in acts of self-discipline. You might think being disciplined is a character trait (i.e. you’ve got it or you don’t), but it’s a skill that can be developed.

  • The first step is removing temptation from reach. If you automatically scroll Instagram when you’re bored or find it difficult to ignore a text from the group chat, put your phone away or disable non-urgent notifications.

  • It’s normal to avoid things that cause discomfort or pain, even if we know we’ll benefit from them. For example, if you don’t enjoy exercise, making yourself do it requires more self-discipline than someone who gets a kick out of it.

    Self-discipline involves sitting with your discomfort and doing something you don't enjoy in the moment but will help you achieve your goals.

  • Hold yourself to account, but make sure you’re not too hard on yourself when things don’t go to plan.

    There’s a difference between making excuses or not prioritising a goal and life getting in the way. And sometimes, we simply don’t have the mental or physical energy to complete a task.

    This isn’t a failure. And it doesn’t mean you’ve gone back to the start line. Your progress hasn’t been lost.

  • Holding yourself accountable also means recognising your hard work and rewarding yourself along the way. Rewards can be as big or small as you like, as long as you put importance on them, they can help incentivise and motivate you.

  1. Ensure you’re prioritising work/life balance

With quiet quitting being a major workplace trend in the latter part of 2022, we want to see 2023 be the year of employees setting work boundaries and taking more time out for themselves.

You may have grand career plans, but if you’re not taking the time to refuel and spend time with your loved ones, your momentum, and mental health, could take a serious hit.

We all get stressed every now and again — it’s a natural response we feel when we’re faced with a challenge. But if we’re constantly under pressure to perform, and for longer periods of time than our brain, and body, can cope with, then our stress can get out of hand and turn into burnout.

This affects our career success and our relationships. It might seem counterintuitive, but the key to career success isn’t always found in “hustling” or working through “the grind” — which may afford you some results in the short term (only to completely backfire down the line).

Prioritising work/life balance means investing in your long-term career success and mental well-being, which is a far more sustainable way to approach work.

  1. Frequently meet with your manager

Achieving career success isn’t a one-person job — you’ll need your manager to be on board with your work goals, too. They can provide you with support, guidance and the resources you need to progress.

However, managers are busy people who are usually inundated with meetings. To get ahead of their calendar, book 1:1 meetings in advance. The frequency is up to you, but ideally, you should meet about your professional development at least once a month.

When it goes past a month, people begin to forget, and let things slide even further until suddenly it’s time for your yearly performance review. Your manager might not intend to go MIA, but it still happens. This means it’s up to you to schedule, and if you have to, continuously remind them.

Though the onus of maintaining these check-ins falls on you, a good manager will still show interest and support in your professional development. It’s a big red flag, and a sign the company doesn’t value professional development if they don’t.

  1. What to do if your company isn’t being supportive

Carving out 1:1 time to reflect, brainstorm and discuss opportunities with leadership is essential to your career success. Knowing someone is on our team is motivating and a real confidence boost.

If you’ve tried to get buy-in from your manager and they’re not biting, it can feel frustrating, and like they’re not invested in your growth at the company. You may feel like you’re falling behind your peers.

Or, similarly, you may have a manager who was involved during the ideation phase of your goal-setting process but isn’t supporting you with putting it into action.

If you’re feeling undervalued, and like your professional development and growth aren’t a priority, then this is an indication of a deeper cultural problem at the company.

Unfortunately, you can’t change your company culture alone, and your manager's behaviour is on them to improve.

If you feel like you’ve come up against a roadblock and your current job isn’t going anywhere, it’s time to find a new role that fulfils you and takes your ambitions seriously.

Do your work goals involve landing an exciting new role? Visit our Jobs Board to find a role that suits you or contact us here.