Subscribe to
Halliday Marx Visions

HM Visions aims to provide you with all the latest accounting recruitment news, jobs and careers advice

So, you’ve successfully navigated 2021 and its many unexpected, personal, professional and global challenges – and now we have a fresh, new year waiting for us. So, with only a few weeks left until the end of the year, this is the best time to look ahead and start planning your career strategy for 2022.

Whether it’s deepening your knowledge in your current role, earning that promotion or moving companies to get that elevated status, we’ve put together some helpful advice on how to make sure your goals set you up for a great 2022.


Reflecting on the key features of 2021 will help get you focused on what you want from the year ahead. Start by listing your achievements; what have been your career highlights? Did you exceed any targets? Have you successfully led a project to completion? Obtained a promotion? Received some exceptional feedback or stretched yourself to learn a new skill outside of your regular work responsibilities? Celebrate these achievements – they will fuel any new intentions with energy and positivity.

After such an uncertain year, many of us are not where we thought we would be, and this can often direct our thoughts to focus only on the negative. However, thinking in this way will inhibit your ability to move forward with a plan you feel excited about – and this will only set you up for failure.

A different experience to the one you predicted does not mean you failed in adding something valuable, by looking back on your successes you can reinforce your self-confidence and remind yourself how far you’ve actually come.

If you feel you made decisions or took actions that did not serve to be fruitful, assess them productively; what did you learn? What worked and what didn’t? What will you change next year to avoid making the same mistakes?

“Personal growth comes from celebrating our successes and learning from our failures, assessing them intelligently and productively means we can make a plan, move on and smash those goals”, added John Marx, Co-Founder, Halliday Marx.

Goal forming

After reviewing 2021, the next step is creating a roadmap for the year ahead. Devoting time to this exercise will ensure your goals are accurately aligned with your career aspirations and will set you up to succeed in both the long and short term.

At Halliday Marx, we advise our candidates to use the SMART technique when planning their career objectives. This simple framework prevents any aspirations from becoming too vague and therefore, unlikely to come to fruition.

The SMART technique:

Specific: Don’t be vague. Instead of ‘I want to earn more’, think carefully about exactly how much more you feel would be acceptable. Try ‘I want to increase my salary by ten percent’.

Measurable: If you want to track your success, you must have a way of measuring it. Rather than ‘I want to take on more responsibility at work’, try ‘I want to have direct line management responsibility for a person or team’.

Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Goals need to stretch and develop you but they must be attainable and this means having the right skills and resources available to achieve them. For example, if you want to gain a specific qualification you need to ask yourself if you can realistically set aside the hours and funds required to make it happen. Alternatively, your employer should have study support as part of your package, if they don’t then you should enter discussions in order to make that happen.

Realistic: Goals should be inspirational but if they are unrealistic, you will quickly lose motivation. Moving from trainee accountant to CEO in a blue-chip company isn’t impossible, but not in 12 months.

If you need help with what is realistic in terms of promotion, salary increase or job opportunities in relation to your current level of skill and experience, it is vital you partner with a proficient, specialist search and recruit consultancy like Halliday Marx. This will ensure you are well-informed and have access to the best finance and accounting opportunities in the coming year.

Time-bound: Goals need a start and finish date. Setting these time-frames against your goals will generate the motivation you need to get them done.

Generating ideas

Getting started is often the biggest challenge, and with so many areas to focus on it can be hard to come up with ideas. Start by asking yourself; what would really make me happy? It’s too easy to assume increasing salary is the only answer to future career happiness, so think beyond this. When you truly reflect on the positive aspects of the past year, your motivation and enjoyment often comes from working with people who share your vision, a time when you learnt something new or perhaps when you successfully led a team to success. You may also find that these things not only enriched your skills and experience, but they opened unexpected doors to other great opportunities.

Once you have a list of goals to achieve or work towards, break them down into smaller, more manageable achievements and plan your first step. Have clear benchmarks in place and don’t forget to include short-term goals to help keep you on track.

Stick to the plan

Many of us set New Year’s Resolutions, but few of us actually achieve them. This can be for a variety of reasons. For instance, if your goals are not specific enough, you will struggle to create a plan to make them happen. Using the SMART method above can really help with this.

Another common reason for missing our goals is accountability. This is why telling others is a great motivator. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, then write them down. This will help you to keep track of them and increase your commitment.

“Candidates often find it useful to share their personal goals with a mentor, having another person involved can help drive accountability and maintain focus” added Andy Halliday, Co-Founder, Halliday Marx.

In summary

As 2021 draws to a close, this is a great time to reflect, evaluate and set yourself up for a successful 2022. Contemplate your previous actions productively and celebrate your successes. Make sure your goals are SMART and that they motivate you personally.

Goals are critical to moving forward, but it is also important to remember that work is only one element of our lives. Think about what you want to achieve in other important aspects by looking at finances, family, fitness, friends and anything else that might be important to you. Our ‘value’ does not exist in isolation – personal goals can often lead to your career goals. If we are happy and healthy outside of work, we are more likely to perform well in our professional lives and vice versa.

If you’re thinking about the year ahead and considering your next finance or accounting role, get in touch with our specialist team on 020 7096 8200, or write to us at [email protected]

For the latest recruitment information, financial opportunities, career advice and company updates, follow us on LinkedIn and twitter @HallidayMarx

Our philosophy is simple; do things simply, do them well.