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With the new year on its way, it pays to spend time determining what your professional goals are and the specific, actionable steps you can take to reach them. Learn more about what you should do before the new year to ensure success in 2020 and beyond.

If you’ve flagged 2020 as the make it or break it year for achieving your professional goals, it’s time to buckle up and lock down a strategy.

It’s important to establish a year-round plan that’s specific and supported, where you’re held accountable for the goals you set. Here’s a guide to help you launch a life and career that’s more prosperous than ever—one where you’ll look back on all that you’ve accomplished with pride.

Key Takeaways

  • Your list of professional goals should be specific, actionable, and measurable.
  • Building a support network is key to realizing your goals and ensuring you're held accountable.
  • A semi-regular evaluation of your progress is crucial to ensuring you're on track to succeed.

Get Specific

Being vague in business has never done anyone any favors. Your professional goals should be specific, actionable, and measurable.

It’s easy to say you want to increase sales. However, if you want to increase sales by 15%, you can work backward and create specific tasks to make that actionable, measurable goal a reality.

Getting specific with your primary goals also means that you can get specific with the actions required to create incremental progress toward those goals. Specificity also helps to ensure that the effort you make each day contributes to a particular goal.

Make a list of your goals for the next year. Are they specific, actionable, and measurable? How will you measure progress toward these goals? How will you know if you’ve achieved them? Make adjustments until you have a clear set of specific goals. Then, list at least three incremental steps you can take toward achieving each of those goals.

Build Your Support Network

Having a supportive network that you can tap into throughout the year is essential to professional success.1 Consider a mentor/mentee relationship if you don’t already have one. Mentors aren’t always older. They can be a fellow go-getter who’s been working on their goals a bit longer or in a different way. You can also find mentors in executive peer groups that bring multiple professional women together to discuss goals and challenges throughout the year.

To find a mentor, consider exploring some of the women’s business networking organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners® (NAWBO), the National Association for Female Executives® (NAFE), the American Business Women’s Association® (ABWA), and Key4Women®. Many offer local chapters in cities all across the country. You can also check with your local chamber of commerce to explore other women’s business organizations in your area.

Achieving your professional goals also requires a significant level of personal support. Whether it’s your significant other, family, or group of friends—share your goals and ask for support when you need it most. Transparency about the year ahead can help the people who care for you keep an eye on your progress, offer support when you feel you’re lagging, and hold you accountable if they see you spending too much time away from the goals you’ve deemed most important.

Identify your mentors and share your plan for the year ahead. List three ways you’ll need support in order to achieve each goal. Establish regular check-in times with your mentor or mentor groups to stay on track.

Commit to Accountability

Don’t let distractions sneak in and squash your year’s goals before you’ve had the chance to get started. Aside from your mentor relationships, find ways to stay on track and progress toward your goals. This might involve a daily recap of your progress in a journal, an app to help you tick-off your to-dos one by one, or organized sessions with an accountability group where you regularly review goals and progress made.

Explore a few different accountability methods for a minimum of two weeks each. Find a way that works with your schedule and style. Log your goals and the incremental steps toward those goals so you can measure your progress throughout the year.

Evaluate Your Progress

Throughout the year, you’ll want to have an honest look at how far you’ve come in terms of meeting your professional goals. Without a regular recap, it’s easy to lose sight of the small wins that contribute to your larger accomplishments.

You’ll need to find the schedule that works best for your style, whether that’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Whatever time table you choose for evaluation, make sure you have a repeatable process in place to assess your success.

  • What was the goal?
  • What steps have you taken toward achieving this goal?
  • Does the goal remain realistic or does it need to be modified?
  • What resources are needed in order to continue working toward this goal?

You can use these questions to build your own system to stay on top of how far you’ve come and how far you have to go. Create a schedule for assessing progress throughout the year and an evaluation system you can use at each check-in to keep you honest.

With the strategies above, you’ll be primed to put your professional goals on the front burner throughout the year. Specificity, support, and accountability will all work together to support the work you enjoy doing and keep you honest about the progress made throughout the year.

Steps to Consider

  • Write a list of your professional goals—making sure they’re specific, actionable, and measurable.
  • Explore some of the most prominent women’s business networking organizations and consider signing up.
  • Ask for support from friends and loved ones when you’re starting to lag and need a pick me up.
  • Explore different accountability tactics that can help you stay on track—like a progress journal, a to-do app, or an accountability group.

The Support You Need

For more Key4Women resources to help you reach your goals, visit or email us to learn more.


Forbes. "How successful women network for their career and business". April 10, 2018.

National Association of Women Business Owners and NAWBO are registered trademarks of National Association of Women Business Owners, Inc.

National Association for Female Executives and NAFE are registered trademarks of Bonnier Corporation.

American Business Women’s Association and ABWA are registered trademarks of ABWA Management LLC.

Key4Women is a registered trademark of KeyCorp.

The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable, but it is not represented to be accurate, complete or objective. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor any affiliate of KeyBank is acting as your agent, broker, advisor, or fiduciary, or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice. KeyBank may have current positions or strategies that may be inconsistent with any views expressed herein. is a federally registered service mark of KeyCorp.

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