Regaining control of your professional goals for 2023

New year, new (professional) you! According to YouGov research, more than 20% of Britons rang in 2023 by making some kind of resolution, and one in five of them promised to work toward new professional objectives.

But now that January is over, many of those sincere intentions might already have been abandoned. You’re not alone if that sounds familiar to you. In fact, by the second week of January, Brits usually give up on their “New Year, New Me” resolutions.

If that resonates with you, don’t give up. Here are some tips to help you get your career back on track.

Keep learning.

Passing all exams is great, but the real learning begins afterwards. You don’t know everything yet. Make it a daily commitment to yourself to ask questions, take notes, and do your research.

Develop your soft skills.

You need both technical and soft skills to succeed in your career. You will advise clients and companies on a variety of issues, so developing strong soft skills like clear communication, empathy, and the ability to make decisions to resolve conflict will be crucial to your success.

Create a strong network.

Natural networking matters. LinkedIn bombing is annoying and ineffective. Show genuine interest in others. Avoid only focusing on the people you consider to be important.

Be authentic.

Accountants are organised, numerate, and detail oriented. When you become a team leader, you’ll need to focus more on management and people skills. If you’re promoted to management without training, it’s easy to slip into the same behaviours that previous managers displayed. But this is your opportunity to be yourself – not a previous manager you think you should be.

Build relationships.

Accountants can get caught up in the daily grind of meeting deadlines and completing tasks. But managers add value by building relationships with staff and facilitating the team. That means knowing your coworkers personally and their strengths and weaknesses.

Seek growth opportunities.

Avoid only focusing on short-term deadlines and tasks. These must be done, but you should also look for new challenges and growth opportunities to advance your career. Joining a cross-functional team, studying, or taking on new responsibilities are examples. Your career will progress if you constantly improve your skills and contacts.

Don’t focus only on one thing.

Diversifying your accountancy career is one of the best ways to advance. Experience in a variety of roles, especially in the first few years of your career as you discover your strengths and passions, will boost your confidence and skills.

Join up with a mentor.

Having the counsel of someone more knowledgeable than you can be extremely helpful, regardless of where you are in your accounting career. If you are unable to find a mentor through your job, it is also worthwhile to approach coworkers who can be of assistance. You might even want to consider joining an association that can connect you with someone. Through the ICAEW Academy, the ICAEW provides members with customised coaching and mentoring programmes to advance their careers in finance.

Manage your stress.

It’s good to be ambitious in your career and education but don’t undue pressure yourself to finish all your goals or training courses by 2023. Comparing yourself to others and trying to do everything at once can lead to burnout, so it’s important to focus on what matters most and take small steps in the right direction. It is also important to remember to look after your mental health, as well as your professional goals. If you have other childcare or work obligations, take your time and find flexible options.

Be prepared to be flexible. It’s great to have a long-term career plan. However, things change, and you will become frustrated if you are unable to adapt now and then go with the flow.

Paul Simpson, Head of HR at Beavis Morgan, comments: “It is so true that, as February comes into sight, New Year resolutions can and invariably do fade away, often being overtaken by other pressing priorities. Try not to lose sight though. Keeping a tight focus on your career plan and developmental goals is so important.

“As busy as our lives can get, it is always beneficial to pause, take timeout to reflect on your development, celebrate your achievements and seek opportunities to learn and grow knowledge, remembering that career paths are seldomly linear.

“Be prepared along the way to adapt and be open-minded to new challenges that will stretch your abilities, knowing the end result will always be enriching and very worthwhile in the long run.

“Above all, get the balance between home and work right. Our minds are more expansive when relaxed and unoccupied by work. It is at these times when great ideas emerge the most and the world around becomes so much clearer.”