IT’S that time of year again — to reflect on the year behind you and plan the year ahead. Many people are looking to move their career forward, but without a strategy or ongoing momentum, it can be difficult. How can you ensure that you achieve your work goals and progress in your career over the coming year?

Identify your goals

The first step to achieving your goals is to focus clearly on what you really want. This can be hard when balancing new year festivities, work schedules and family life, but block out a good chunk of time for reflection as this can energise and realign you with your goals.

Visit a place that you find inspiring, which will allow you to distance yourself from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. Take time to be alone so that you can gain perspective and focus on what you really want.

Reflect on your success

Ask a friend, colleague or career coach to help you analyse the skills that have contributed to your success and develop your clear personal brand. If you take stock of your achievements, remind yourself of your values, and understand your competencies. This will enable you to move forward by reassuring yourself that you are headed in the right direction.

Define your objectives

Be courageous by admitting to yourself what you really want from your career. When writing your goals, ask yourself if they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound).

Next, identify what you need to do to reach your milestones, and map them out like a corporate strategy. Don’t let this become a personal plan; share it with others and let them know how they can support you.

For example, if you want to take extra night courses that relate to your job and have the potential to help your company, tell your manager.

Your employer may well pay for the course, and your manager may be able to offer you flexible working hours to accommodate the time needed for it.

Practical planning tips

Spread out your resolutions: When you start planning, space your goals out over the year; it’s not realistic to expect to wake up transformed by the first week of January.

It’s much easier to see what you want to do right away than to plan what you want to accomplish in six months to a year, so creating a long-term plan will keep you on track and help you achieve all of your goals, not just some.

Keep track of your plans: Once you have developed your list of goals, transfer them into your Outlook calendar or diary as individual tasks, or display them in a visible place alongside your day-to-day activities.

This will allow you to keep your goals in mind and in motion throughout the year, and constantly refer to them.

Review your targets regularly: If you take the time to reassess your resolutions throughout the year, you will start to feel more in control of them.

Make a habit of scheduling review time each week, so you can track your progress on each task, and identify what the next step will be.

While it is great to have a big-picture plan, it’s the small successes that will ultimately help you reach your goal. Try the weekly review system from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.

Tell people: Let your loved ones or colleagues know that you want to achieve a goal by a certain date. You will work harder since they will make you feel accountable. The support of your network will push you forward.

Realise the power of your vision: If your goal is to get a promotion, picture yourself moving to your new office or changing your title in your e-mail signature to the one you desire. Seeing your goals happen will help you believe they are achievable.

Create a vision for each of your resolutions, and think about them regularly. The more you envision your success, the more likely it will come true.