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5 Questions To Ask Yourself To Get Clear On Your 2024 Career Goals
Career & Money

5 Questions To Ask Yourself To Get Clear On Your 2024 Career Goals

It's well known that successful people are intentional in how they set out goals for their day, month, or year, so planning ahead to reach your career goals in order to advance professionally is a must. Whenever it's time to do anything, I'm a big fan of starting with my "why" and moving forward from there. And in putting on my coaching cap here (I mean, I guess I should put that master's degree into use), the major "why" starts with a line of open-ended questioning---a fun exercise in reflection and honesty with yourself.


Whether career advancement means a promotion, a total change, a jump into entrepreneurship, a salary increase, or taking a total break from the hustle altogether, you can come to a few great realizations and learn how to set and achieve career goals for 2024 by asking the following questions:

1. What aspects of my current work make me feel motivated, happy, and accomplished?

For me, this question allows me to not only think positively about the next steps in my career but to ensure that the work I'm doing aligns with my values. I like to feel accomplished and challenged in my work. I'm also motivated by doing acts of service and building a certain quality of life. I think of these things when I consider my career development and advancement.

Write down what you love about the work you do, what tasks are your favorite, and how your work makes you feel. Are you into moving up the ladder or being of support to leadership? Are you great at administrative tasks but hate public speaking?

Are you more passionate about being the visionary versus handling tedious tasks? Are you more into working from a corporate or home office, or do you like being out in the field or working hands-on with people or things? What is your standard when it comes to feeling accomplished, and how does your industry measure success, results, or impact? Does success tie directly into how much you earn a year? These are just examples of the secondary questions you must ask yourself to assess what keeps you going and makes you tick when it comes to a career.

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2. What is my current standing or status in my industry?

It's always good to assess where you currently are in order to know where you're going. And keep it real with yourself. Take a look at your resume and the reality of your job duties, what you actually do from day to day, where you work, and how you've been an asset to a company or industry. What were your sales last year? What projects did you lead that met deliverables? How have you positively impacted the life of someone else as part of your job? What was your attendance like? What's your current salary? Did you get promoted? Why or why not?

Take into account the feedback---constructive criticism, praise, or "bad"--- that you've gotten in your performance reviews, from your managers, or from your coworkers. Also, consider your education and training, whether it's traditional or learned through experience.

Are you at the epicenter of excellence and healthy competition when it comes to reaching the highest levels in your industry (related to location, market, or company)? Are you making the impact you want in terms of the number of people you serve and the types of clients you work with?

If there are areas of improvement, such as communication, time management, leadership, or soft skills, write those down as well. You want a full picture of who you are as a professional in order to map out where you need to go from there.

3. What aspects about my current work do I totally hate?

The answer to this one can come easy for many of us, as oftentimes, we are very clear on what we don't like about our jobs or careers. (That's a major reason I didn't make this the No. 1 question.) And even if you totally love your job, there are always some aspects that aren't as enjoyable as others. Write down the tasks, office culture nuances, and other things related to your daily or monthly work life.

Do you hate going into an actual office? Does the company's way of doing business clash with your values or what you believe to be a better way? Is your company not quite a good fit for working parents or diverse professionals? Are you finding yourself becoming smarter and more efficient than your boss? Do you cringe about the tasks associated with managing people or processes?

Again, get real about this so that you can plan accordingly in terms of changing jobs, and careers, or simply shifting your perspective and approach if your job is one you want to remain at but you don't enjoy the grunt work of it.

This question is also a good way to find out what you want to do when you're utterly clueless about that as well. Maybe you're in a rut or still figuring things out when it comes to what you'll do for a living, so figuring out what you definitely don't want to do will help lead you to what you do.

4. Considering my lifestyle, triggers, and way of thinking, what method of goal-setting serves me and will realistically work?

Many coaches tout the benefits of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, but that's not the only method you can use to set goals and stick to them. I'm a big fan of the HARD method (which stands for heartfelt, animated, required, difficult) because it's more along the lines of how I think, how I work, and how I process goals with the consideration of my obstacle triggers (i.e. people and things that lead to procrastination, heightened anxiety, or waning determination).

I find the SMART technique to be formulaic, strict, and quite boring, so I'm less inclined to meet my goals because I don't feel the passion or excitement to do so. (That's not to say it doesn't work. Again, this is based on the person and what motivates them to follow through on a process of setting goals.)

There are other methods for setting goals, including OKR (objectives and key results), micro goals (setting multiple smaller goals versus one larger goal), or backward goals (starting from the outcome and planning backward from there based on what that end goal entails).

With any technique, you'll need to come to some sense of clarity about where you want to go (or at least how you want your work life to look in 2024 or beyond) and be able to hold yourself accountable by setting deadlines or measurable targets to hit within setting the goal. There might be changes you need to make, additional classes or training you need to get, or maybe even relocation in store, but you won't know until you actually map out using some sort of technique that can organize your thoughts and plan of action.

5. What resources do I need that contribute to career fulfillment and the quality of life I want?

Another commonality among the successful is the fact that they have a tribe, and they don't achieve success alone. It takes community and resources in order to advance. Write down what resources you might need and how you can tap into those resources in order to meet some of the goals you've set using the methods mentioned previously.

How can you get a mentor? Do you need to go back to school or get more education? Are you able to intern, volunteer, or position yourself for certain projects at your current job in order to gain experience? If you're considering entrepreneurship, what grants or programs can you apply for in order to be a success, get funding, or transition from your 9-to-5?

What financial, time, or personal support will you need from family, friends, and colleagues in order to reach your goals? What expenses (and yes, time and your talent are expenses) can you cover in order to reach those goals (i.e., tuition, extra time after work, volunteer hours, or mental focus)? Consider all resources and possibilities, even if you deem them impossible or unreachable.

While there might be very real systemic and societal barriers to accessing resources for career development and advancement--- especially for Black women---there are resources that you can tap into. Add hard work, research, reliance on your network, use of your unique skills, and an attitude that nobody can stop you, and you've got a prosperous plan for career success in the new year.

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Featured image by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

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