11 Smart Tips To Achieve Career Success In 2016

A man with arms raised on a mountain, with quote "This will be my year for success"

Are you determined to achieve more career success this year? Have you developed your action plan and are you taking steps every day to make this happen?

We all have aspirations to advance in our careers and accomplish great things. But attaining big goals can be overwhelming and we may not know how to start or which path to take.

In fact, the majority of people get discouraged and give up on their goals too easily. They expect drastic results in a short timeframe and then get frustrated when nothing happens.

Regardless of the size of the goals, achieving success requires commitment, hard work, and perseverance.There are no shortcuts around this and it cannot happen overnight.

In the end, only you can steer your career path and reach your true potential.

So how are you going to achieve success?

You really can achieve anything you want, but you have to want to work for it. So make this the year that you shift your thinking and focus on your dreams.

You will evaluate your career goals, figure out what you want, and commit to your dreams. You will come up with a plan and then take action.

And nothing will stop you from achieving success.

To help you with your plan, below are 11 tips you can use on your path to achieving greatness.


1.  Goal setting

a blank space; 20 px in height

First Step:  What do you want to do?a blank space; 20 px in height

Goal setting. What do you want to do in your career? A person thinking about career options.

a blank space; 20 px in heightDo you feel stuck in your career and that you’re not moving forward? This is a problem that many people face. They’re not exactly sure what they’re doing in their careers and where they’re heading.

It’s important to do some soul-searching and have a good look at where you see yourself in the future. What do you really want in your career and out of life?

Once you have a clear picture of your goals, only then can you make an honest commitment to work towards them.

If you’re having a difficult time figuring this out, try asking yourself some questions:

  • What does my dream job look like?
  • Does my current job match this description or should I change jobs?
  • Do I want to start my own business?
  • Do I need to go back to school or take additional training progams?
  • Where do I see myself in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? And what do I want to be doing? Am I on the right path?
  • What do I need to do to improve my current situation?

Second Step:  Set SMART goalsSMART Goals framework. A graphic showing the acronym and meaning for each letter, along with relevant picture icons.

Once you figure out what you want to do, the next step is to set goals to get you on the path to achieving success.

Without goals, it’s impossible to achieve anything in life. You need goals to turn your dreams into specific actions that can become your reality.

You’ve likely already heard of the SMART goals concept. Many organizations have adopted this system as part of their professional development process for employees.


  • Setting specific goals that are clearly defined will make it easier to attain as opposed to vague, general goals.
  • Include the details required to achieve the goals such as the steps involved and actions you need to take.
  • For example, a general goal is “I want a big raise”.
  • A specific goal is “I will work towards a promotion this year by taking on more challenging projects and learning new skills. The raise will follow as a result of the promotion.”


  • It’s important to add numbers to your goals to measure your progress and know when you’ve accomplished them.
  • For example, a sales professional might set a goal to sign 10 new clients with $500K of new revenue for the year.


  • Have you set goals that are possible to attain? The goals should be challenging but at the same time manageable and within your control.
  • Goals should be tailored to your skills, abilities and mindset. This way, you can achieve them and are poised for success.


  • Have you been honest with yourself about the effort and hard work required to achieve your goal?
  • A realistic goal reflects your commitment to the goal, as well as to the level of success you’re hoping to attain.
  • For example, “I’m going to get a 20% raise” may be more realistic than “I’m going to become a millionaire” this year.
  • If a goal is unrealistic or too overwhelming, then you will get frustrated and give up when you don’t see results. If you set goals that are well-suited for you, then you’ll be able to stay motivated and see real progress.


  • Every goal should have a time period for achieving results. Without a deadline, there would be no reason to work towards the goal.
  • A time frame puts pressure on you to take action and keep on track with your goals.

2.  Find your motivation

Find your motivation. A picture of a runner at the starting block. With the words "What is your why?"

You have full control over your actions and achievements. And only you can determine your success.

You already know this. So what’s holding you back?

One of the main reasons people don’t reach their goals is that they haven’t found their motivation. They haven’t identified the reasons to keep going and power through the difficult times.

Before you even think of working on your goals, it’s critical to find your motivation. It’s going to be the fuel that takes your goals, puts them into action and turns them into reality. It’s going to be your friend on the long and bumpy path to achieving success.

Need some help? Below are some ideas to find your motivating force:

What’s your purpose?

What drives you to get up and go to work every day?  What are your passions and inspirations? What are the most important things in your life?

Maybe it’s the desire to challenge yourself, achieve personal and career satisfaction, financial freedom?  Or maybe it’s spending time with friends and family, having a job you enjoy, or traveling?

Make a list and write these down and remind yourself of them every day. Keep them somewhere that you can see often. These are all your reasons to work through your goals.

See the benefits for your future self
Goals / benefits for future self. Images of a house, family, travel and career success.

Another reason people fail at keeping their career resolutions is that they can’t see the benefits that their hard work will have in the future. We get impatient and expect results immediately.

But every step today counts as progress towards your future. It’s important to visualize your future self and focus on the benefits that will come from achieving your goals.

Go ahead and visualize your future self. What does your life look like in 5 – 10 years if you persevere and stay on track with your goals?  What does it look like if you don’t stay committed to your dream?  Which one of these options can you live with?

If you focus on the long-term benefits, it will make it easier to suffer through the short-term pains of conquering your goals.

Use visual reminders

We are visual creatures by nature and images are more engaging and interesting for our minds to absorb. And they also tell a better story than just plain words.

So use this to your advantage to keep your focus sharp and your motivation level high.

Put up pictures related to your goals at home and work where you can see these regularly. This way, you’ll have constant reminders of your motivating forces.


3.  Look out for roadblocks

A man walking on a tight rope across two mountains. With the Jack Penn quote "One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks."

Motivation keeps you going on the right path towards your goals. But roadblocks can stop you in your tracks and make you want to give up. Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to get sidetracked and put off course.

Be Prepared

It’s important to identify potential obstacles at the very beginning, before you even start. This is because some obstacles may be small and only derail you temporarily. Whereas others may be bigger obstacles and can make the entire goal seem impossible.

For example, are your goals possible in your current work environment or do you need to change jobs? Do you have the necessary support from your manager/boss to progress? Do you need additional training programs to succeed?

What are you going to do about these obstacles? Change jobs, ask for a new manager, take more training programs?

Make a list of possible obstacles and come up with a plan of attack on how you’ll handle these if they get in your way.

Are YOU the biggest obstacle?
A woman climbing over a wall. With the Ralph Marston quote "There are plenty of obstacles in your path. Dont allow yourself to become one of them."

We can be our own worst enemies. Even with the right opportunities and circumstances to succeed, we can sabotage ourselves. This is because we let our negative thoughts, worries, low self-confidence, and fear get in the way.

You may tell yourself “I’m not good enough for that managerial position, so why should I even try?”

It’s important to catch yourself and acknowledge the negative beliefs. And then remind yourself that these are all in your head. Who says you’re not good enough?  What do you have to back this up? And why are these thoughts going to control you?

Ignore the voices in your head and move forward with your plans. Stop the negative thoughts in their tracks and shift to positive ones.

Remind yourself of all your accomplishments to this point and that you have the capability to accomplish even more. This is the only way to build confidence and keep moving in the right direction.

You CAN overcome any obstacle

How you handle roadblocks will be the biggest test to your determination to succeed. You really can overcome any obstacle if you want something bad enough.

If you know what to expect, you can face these head-on and not let them drive you to defeat. It’s better to be prepared than surprised and caught off guard.

4.  Planning is key

A flowchart used for planning purposes.

Have you ever rushed into a project and then had not-so-great results? Did you regret it later and wished you had planned better at the beginning?

It’s happened to all of us at some point in our careers. And this is why a good action plan is critical for any project and achieving success.

A well-developed plan will help you put your goals into motion. And equally important, it will save you time, energy, stress and money. You’ll be in the best shape possible for success.

Go ahead and create your detailed career plan

And make sure to write it down. This can be in a notebook, word or spreadsheet document, or any program that’s easy for you to use. A written plan solidifies your goals and increases your chances of sticking to it.

Some key factors to include in your plan are listed below. And of course, you can create any format that works best for you and add as many other factors as you need.

Steps to achieve the goals

You’ve likely set some great career goals this year. At the beginning, this may seem overwhelming. You may be asking yourself “where do I start?” and “what do I need to do to meet these goals?”

Try breaking down your big goals into a series of smaller steps. Smaller, more frequent actionable goals will help you manage the process much better. This will also allow you to focus better and it’ll be easier to achieve the small steps.

You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete each step, and knowing that you’re closer to achieving the bigger goal.

Timeframe for each step

If there were no time limits, then you could try to meet your goals “someday”.

It’s essential to include deadlines for each step in your plan. This will put pressure on you and force you to take action and stay on track.

Training needed

Your goals may include steps where you need to learn new concepts or skills. Make sure to do some research and include the training or educational programs you need to take to complete your step.

Resources and tools

Are there any specific tools or resources that you need to complete the various steps? Does your company currently offer these or do you need to request or perhaps obtain on your own?

These should also be part of your plan as well as if you need to take any additional steps to access the tools you need.

Cooperation from others

Does your action plan depend heavily on the work of others? For example, the team you manage at work? Incorporate any steps that involve others and how you plan to work with them and manage the team’s success.

This step also includes the input that you will need from your manager to confirm you’re on the right track and the support you’ll receive for your goals.

5.  Take action!

A businessman on a skateboard jumping across a mountain. With the Pablo Picasso quote "“Action is the foundational key to all success”

You may have big dreams and the best intentions, but without taking action, nothing can happen. Success is only possible by consistently taking action. It’s the only way to move forward and turn your dreams into reality.

Think of success as a gradual process

We all have to start somewhere. Even the most successful people had to start at the bottom and work their way up.

Unfortunately, there are no magical ways to fast forward to achieving success. It takes time, effort and dedication to achieve big goals.

But the most important thing is to take action now and just keep going. Do something every day to work towards your goals. Over time, you build up great momentum and the hard work simply becomes a daily habit.

Don’t be afraid of challenges. Embrace them.

Success doesn’t come from being stuck in the same career position and doing the same boring things. It comes from challenging yourself and pushing the limits on what you can do.

If you feel stuck in your current role, then it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. Look for opportunities where you can improve your skills, learn new things, and gain valuable experience.

Taking initiative and challenging yourself will push you towards higher career levels. Stretch yourself and you will be rewarded for your actions.

6.  Review your progress

Self-review. A man reviewing his career progress as a bar chart.

Focusing on your results is a good way to hold yourself accountable and stay on course with your goals.

Set aside some time each month to have your own personal review. Here are some items you can include:

  • Keep track of your accomplishments vs. your plan. Check off every step you complete in your plan as you go along.
  • Are you on track with your plan and where you wanted to be at this point? If not, that’s okay. Focus on getting back on track. What will you do to make this happen?
  • What are the next goals over the next month? Get prepared for the next action items to keep moving forward.
  • Create a summary of your achievements, experience and new skills that you’ve learned. Keep this document updated to use for your formal performance reviews or for your resume. (It’s easier to update this document each month then to have to go back and review a full year’s work at a later time).
  • Repeat the review process each month until you accomplish your overall goals.

And remember, a sense of achievement is a powerful motivator. Personal reviews and anything else that keeps up your momentum are worthwhile to do!


7.  Expect failure, and get back up

Overcoming failure. A man hanging off a cliff by a rope. With the Albert Einstein quote "If youve never failed, youve never tried anything new."

Who hasn’t failed at something? We’ve all experienced the sense of defeat at some point in our lives.

And we’ll continue to make mistakes again in the future. We’re not perfect, after all. And it’s impossible for everything to go exactly as we planned. It’s just the reality that some type of failure is inevitable.

But the most important thing is how you deal with the setbacks. Are you going to accept your failures and treat these as temporary problems? Or are you going to let them define you as a person and give up on your dreams?

Focusing on past mistakes is counter-productive and a huge drainer on your mental and emotional energy. You can’t change the past, so why dwell on it?

Instead, examine past failures and learn from the experiences. What went wrong and why?  And then forgive yourself and move forwards.

Your focus needs to be on the future and what you can do to lead you towards success. Work on your goals one day at a time. Keep trying and never give up.


8. Continuous growth and improvement

A businessman climbing up a career ladder with the word "Improvement" written on the ladder.

Consider this – How did you get to where you are today?

Over time, you worked hard and developed your skills, habits, mindset and attitudes that fueled your success to this point.

Well the same process/principles apply to achieving more success.

It’s about continuous growth and development. Successful people never stop improving themselves and expanding their knowledge and skills.

So keep stretching yourself and your career advancement will continue.

Master new skills

Think about which skills are most relevant for meeting your goals and assess your proficiency levels. Identify the ones that you need to learn or improve.

For example, do you need to strengthen your communication, technology, management or marketing skills?  The skills can be pretty much anything that would be important to achieving your goals.

Focus on improving at least one skill and make it a priority for the year. There are many learning opportunities you can explore to do this. Check your company’s professional training programs, search online for free courses, your local college, etc.

And always remember, the best way to kill your chances for career success is to remain stagnant and become complacent. To keep progressing in your career, you must be willing to reinvent yourself, conquer new challenges, and learn new skills.

9. Boost Your Productivity

An over-worked woman who wants to improve her productivity. She is lying on her office floor surrounded by her laptop, files and phone.

Have you considered your work patterns and whether you’re operating at your best levels?  Are your daily habits helping you towards your goals or preventing you from meeting them?

In today’s fast-paced world, everyone is looking to accomplish more in less time. And boosting your productivity every day is essential for career success.

There are many strategies to help you be more productive. It’s worthwhile to check some out and see if they work for you.

Productivity tips

Below we’ve listed a few quick tips to see if there are any that interest you. There may just be one  or two that help boost your efficiency and save you time and energy!

For more in-depth details, check out our articles on some top productivity and time management tips to help you succeed.

  • Create daily to-do lists to help plan and organize your day.
  • Plan out all your projects to ensure you meet the objectives and produce great results.
  • Work on the most important and urgent projects first. Make these a priority at the start of every day before completing small busy work.
  • Quit multitasking. It’s inefficient and ends up taking more time to complete the work. Focus on one task at a time and you’ll complete everything in less time and with better quality.
  • Focus on time management. Assign specific times for completing your tasks and use timers or other apps to help keep you on track.
  • Block out all distractions such as social media and internet sites. Avoid anything else that helps you procrastinate and takes time away from your work.
  • Keep unnecessary meetings to a minimum. Most meetings can drag on and be real time-wasters. You can use that time for productive work instead.
  • Set up your work environment to help you be more productive. Such as closing your office door, using headphones, putting up a “do not disturb” note, or anything else to help you focus.
  • Delegate any work that you can and look for process improvements to help you save time.
  • Make sure to take breaks and exercise to keep you mentally refreshed.


10. Surround yourself with positive, successful people

Surround yourself with positive people. 3 people jumping in the air. With the Epictetus quote "The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you..."

People play an important role in your life and can have a huge influence on your behavior and state of mind. So it’s important to surround yourself with those that will have a positive impact as you work towards your goals.

Grow your personal and professional network with people that you respect and consider successful. And “successful” doesn’t have to mean just those that are financially well-off or business leaders.

Successful can have many different meanings based on what’s important to you. In this case, we’re referring to people that will encourage and inspire you to improve yourself, help you through the challenging times, and motivate you to achieve success.

With that in mind, it’s not always possible to interact with positive people at work. You may be in a work environment where the majority of people don’t like their jobs and are in a negative funk. If that’s the case, then you can look outside of your work environment for positive influences.

Even in the best workplaces, you should still get out there and expand your circle of professional contacts. Go to networking events, conferences, and join groups and associations within your field.

Continue to build relationships with people you can learn from, exchange ideas and gain different perspectives. If you surround yourself with the right people, you will continue to thrive in your career.

11.  Be the picture of perseverance

A swimmer racing with the quote by Samuel Johnson "Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance."

What secret do successful people have that allows them to set goals and see them through to the end?  Why does this seem so easy for some people to accomplish?

It’s not a secret or anything special, they simply have strong willpower and the perseverance to succeed. The good news is that we can all improve our willpower by changing a few thoughts and behaviors.

Practice self-discipline

Having great self-control is essential for taking charge in your career. It gives you the power to stay focused, avoid procrastination, and hold yourself accountable for your progress.

But self-control is something that everyone struggles to master. It’s so much more enjoyable to binge watch on YouTube than to get started on your work projects.

So how can you improve your self-discipline? First, you have to identify the things that tempt you to lose control and derail you from your plan. Then, you have to make a conscious decision to fight the temptations and stay on track. Stop and remind yourself that you are fully in charge of your thoughts and behaviors.

Only by continuous practice can self-control become a permanent habit.

Be patient

Working towards your goals can be a long and time-consuming process. Many people become impatient when they don’t see results quickly and then give up.

So it’s essential to prepare yourself at the beginning and set realistic expectations for your long-term goals. This will help you avoid the stress that comes with being impatient and keep you calm and focused on your plan.

Stay mentally strong

In the pursuit of your goals, there are going to be challenging and difficult times. And even worse, days that will push you to your limits.

But you made a commitment to your aspirations. So you will persevere and you will stand strong. You will not let the obstacles deter you and nothing will break you.

When you stick to your game plan, success is just a matter of time!

Stay positive

A positive attitude can have a powerful influence on your behavior and boost your chances for success. It helps you build up your confidence and believe that anything is possible. Thus, problems aren’t as difficult to overcome. It becomes easier to cope with stress and get through the tough times.

Why not reap the benefits and choose to be optimistic when it comes to your career? Just imagine how many great things you can accomplish!

What do you think?

How are you planning to achieve success? Which tips work best for you? Please feel free to share your comments below.


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