Earlier this week, we gave you three strategies to help you be a more intentional steward of your time, money, and energy. Today, we want to focus on the area of your life that likely takes up—and hopefully, offers you—much of those resources: your job.

That being said, there’s a reason this is the last area of life that we’re highlighting in the series—while your career is important, you can only find true balance in your life when you take care of yourself, your relationships, and your resources first. If you’ve set goals with the previous posts in this series as your guide, today you’ll discover the final piece of the puzzle: how to set goals in your professional life and cultivate balance in every area of your life.

Because whether you work for a big corporation or run your own shop, work part-time or seemingly around-the-clock, your job undoubtedly plays an important role in your life. In fact, most of us spend the majority of our waking ours at our jobs or working within our own businesses. Suffice it to say, professional goals are incredibly important!

Without setting the right goals, your career can become stagnant, unmotivating, or you could miss out on new opportunities you may not have yet considered! So, in an effort to set goals that are thoughtfully balanced in each area of your life, today we want to focus on the goals that support you professionally.

It’s important to set professional goals not based on what you think you should do, your boss wants you to do, or simply the seeming next step on your “career ladder;” rather, you should set professional goals that align with how you want to grow, what you want to learn, and how you can best contribute to your job, your industry, and the world.

These are five ways you can do exactly that:

1. Say What You Want

For many of us, it’s easy to list what we don’t want in a job: late nights, catty coworkers, or paltry paychecks. While it’s important to be clear about what you do and don’t want out of your career, don’t just stop with what won’t work—use that insight to get clear on what you do want. Instead of dwelling on potentially negative aspects you want to avoid, why not focus on the positive? What does your dream career look like? How does it differ from the work you do now? What do you want to be doing? What service are you excited to offer the world? Studies show that there is power in positivity. By focusing on the positive qualities of work you desire, you’re a lot more likely to bring your professional dream to life.

2. Get Specific

Now that you know what you want, you can start setting the goals that will get you there! But don’t stop there. Studies have also shown that you’re a lot more likely to reach your goals when you’re specific about them. Sure, you know you want to be promoted to Executive Director in the next few months, but what are the exact steps that will get you there? There’s no doubt (in our minds, at least!) that you can accomplish the specific goals that you set for yourself, but if you leave them vague or if they seem especially daunting, your excitement may eventually turn into overwhelm. Keep your positive new year momentum by being specific about your goals and breaking them down into (also specific!) smaller tasks you can accomplish every month—or every week or every day!

3. Create a Plan

Your next step is to create a plan to make sure you actually accomplish the goals you set. A goal without a plan is simply a wish, after all! As we said, it can be overwhelming to look at your list of professional goals and see “Get promoted!”—so make a plan before that happens. You’ve already gotten specific about your goals and broken them down into manageable tasks. Do you need to break them down even further? When will you accomplish each “mini-goal”? What potential obstacles might you bump up against? How can you overcome them? Set yourself up for success by thinking ahead and creating a plan that will lead you there!

4. Take Daily Action

Now it’s time to put your plan to good use! At the beginning of every week, take out your planner and schedule the daily actions you’ll take to align with your career plan and reach your goals. Perhaps you’ll connect with one person outside of your network every day for a month? You might send a daily end-of-day check in to your boss so she’s aware of what you’re working on? Or maybe you’ll work to get to inbox zero at the end of every day? Make sure you’re realistic about what you can accomplish in a given week and a given day—but don’t shy away from challenging yourself either! You’re trying to accomplish something new, after all—something that is leading you to the career you want to have. Be intentional about what you do every day to help get you there, and schedule the time to make sure it happens!

5. Schedule Regular Reviews

Before you put your planner away, there’s one more thing you should write down: a regular goal review. Many goals and resolutions are often forgot about by February because you lose the momentum and motivation you felt at the beginning of the year. Schedule time now to regularly review your goals, get clear about what’s working, be honest about what’s not, make tweaks to your plan—or even your goals, if your priorities have shifted! But schedule the time now to revisit what you want to accomplish and keep yourself psyched about your path to getting there. By the end of the year, you’ll be amazed at all you’ve intentionally accomplished in your well-designed life!

In our next post—the closing post in our “Creating Goals to Cultivate Balance” series—we will be wrapping up with our top tips for setting intentional goals that cultivate balance throughout your life. You won’t want to miss it!

What professional goals are you setting for yourself this year? Share your career aspirations and how you’ll balance them in the comments below!

Big goals and plans matter, but real change happens on a daily basis—in tiny, incremental steps. Find inspiration and focus with the 2018 Flagship Daily Planner from Day Designer!