138 – Setting your New Year “North Star” Goal


In this episode, Daphne shares how and why you should set a New Year “North Star” goal.

Listen to the episode in the podcast player below, or find it on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Setting your new year “North Star” goal


If you have listened to my past New Year’s episodes, you know I personally love this time of year. New Year’s has always been my favorite time for fresh beginnings and a lot of self-reflection and setting goals. One of the things that I’ve talked about in my past New Year’s episodes is that my husband and I really like sitting down and pulling from what we call our happy memories jar, which is all year long. It’s nothing fancy. It’s a mason jar sitting on top of our fireplace, but we write down when we just had a really incredible day when something just felt wonderful and we call it a happy memory and we put it into our happy memory jar and then we sit down on New Year’s and we reflect on all the really great things that happened that year, all the times that we spent with our family, all the really great memories that we made, and it also helps us see how much progress we made throughout the year when we hit these really big milestones.

When you’re in the thick of it when it’s a really busy season, and 2023 was a very busy season for us personally, it’s easy to forget all of those different things that happened, and New Year’s is just a really good time to sit back and notice and measure the progress that you make, and that’s why New Year’s is one of my favorite times for setting goals.

Setting goals is just a really important part of my routine because it helps keep me productive and happy, and this might have something to do with my ADHD, but it helps me keep focused on what are the most important things in my life because I can get easily distracted and go down completely different paths and forget about what I’m supposed to be working on, but I know that it’s not just me. There are so many people who feel the same way and especially around New Year’s. I think that this is for two reasons: First, it’s a psychological fresh start, so the start of a new year really represents this blank slate for so many people.

Daphne shares that the New Year is a great time to embrace a fresh start

It’s an opportunity to leave behind the mistakes of the past year and to work on new goals and new intentions and this approach, this sense of a fresh start can be really motivating and appealing and it helps a lot of people.

The second reason is it’s just a good milestone, like I said, for measuring progress. It provides a really convenient time so that you could assess your personal growth and accomplishments. If you’re not setting smart goals with specific markers of when you’re supposed to accomplish things, New Year’s really helps serve as that marker for many people. You can look back on the past year and see how far you’ve come to plan for any future progress. And because I truly believe that there is no better time to commit to real change than New Year’s, I’m using this episode to share a different strategy to help you stay motivated with your career goals and action steps to help you get to where you want to be.

Now, the concept I’m going to focus on for this episode is called a North Star goal, and you can think of it like your guiding purpose. This is going to be a long-term aspirational goal. It’s going to be meant to motivate and inspire you, but it’s also supposed to be flexible, so it’s not going to be as clear as a goal that you would set for three months time or six months time.

This is a high level and really aspirational goal, and that’s supposed to help keep you inspired for long-term progress and realize that life is going to hit you with some roadblocks. There are going to be twists and turns in your journey, but ultimately if you’re continuing to work towards your North Star goal, then you know that you’re on the right path. So here are just some examples of what a North Star goal might sound like and there’s no right or wrong answer here.

It could be something like, “I want to have a six figure job where I get respect and recognition, and I get the pay that I deserve, and there’s opportunity for me to continue to grow in leadership positions.” That might not be important to you. You may be more of the type of person who is looking for a job in environmental conservation or political change where you know that you’re going to make an impact or feel passion daily for what you’re doing.

Or it might be being the best wife or mother that you can be, spending the majority of your evenings, weekends focusing on making lasting memories with your children, focusing on gaining your mental health back, working with a therapist, becoming more physically healthy and more based on that type of personal growth. It can be a combination of all of these things, but what’s the most important thing is you ask yourself these types of questions while you’re writing down your North Star goal.

Daphne explains why setting your North Star goal is a way to reflect on what is really important to you

What do you want to have happen in the next five to 10 years? What is truly important to you? What does success look like to you? Is success professional? Is it more based on your health and your time off of work? Is it more focused on how you feel when you’re around your family? Is it validation from the position that you’re in or validation from a mission that you have? Really sit down with these types of questions because ultimately your North Star goal is supposed to be focused with your core values and your beliefs, and that is what is going to help you stay more committed and find fulfillment in your pursuits because you know that whatever you’re working towards is in sync with something that you deeply care about. Some of us can fall into the trap of looking for a job that gives us a validation.

It has an impressive title when ultimately what’s the most important thing for us is to just gain your mental health back and be able to pay your bills, and be able to spend your afternoons with your loved ones, and it isn’t actually that important for you to feel like you are growing in the corporate environment in this season of your life. That’s not what you really envision being a happy life in five to 10 years.

While some of us are highly motivated by the idea of a successful career going to large metropolitan cities, flying all over the United States, speaking in boardrooms or speaking at large national conferences, that’s what we really want to do with the next five to 10 years of our lives. So this is where you need to sit down and really think about what it is that you really deeply care about for your own personal happiness and for what you envision your next career change to bring you ultimately, and I really want to make sure I reiterate here.

The important thing to realize is that this is going to be a long-term vision. Remember, this is your five to 10 years out goal. Many New Year’s resolutions often focus on short-term changes. This is really going to be thinking about the bigger picture and the person that you want to become over time, and that’s where the motivation comes in and it’s going to provide you with some direction, but it also allows for a lot of twists and turns in the journey because like I said, life is unpredictable. Circumstances can change. Someone can offer you a stepping stone position and it’s going to be important for you to realize whether or not it’s moving you towards that North Star goal or if it’s moving you in the exact opposite direction. And what I mean is if you’re looking for a role that ultimately is going to help you be the best wife or mother that you can be and you’re taking a position that is going to require you to work nights and weekends, that’s directly conflicting with what you’ve said your core values are, and it’s potentially not working you in the right direction.

But if you’re looking for a six figure job where you get the respect and recognition that you deserve and someone offers you a position where there’s a lot of growth opportunities in the company, while it may not be paying you six figures right now that would be working you towards that long-term, five to 10 years out goal. This is where potentially your salty brain might be kicking in. You might be like, “Okay, Daphne, that’s nice. Let’s make a vision board, all of that.” But I have tried to pivot before and it just didn’t work and that’s why in the rest of this episode, I am going to share different steps to help you get towards your North Star goal. And the first step is going to be really focusing on your mindset, addressing fear, hesitations, blockers, anything that’s really holding you back from believing that something is possible for you that has been possible for so many other former teachers.

Daphne shares guidance for how to reflect on your transition journey so far

We’ve done past podcast episodes about how fear holds you back or how teacher guilt might make it harder for you to leave your colleagues or really put 100% full effort in your career transition, or whether or not breaking your contract midyear is going to be the right step for you. If you haven’t listened to those past podcast episodes, I want you to get down a little sticky note and say your first goal is to make your North Star goal. Your second goal is going to be to go back to the Teacher Career Coach podcast episodes that really align with where you are struggling with your mindset and listen to them first. The next step is going to be to reflect on past career change attempts that you have made. Really start to think about what motivated you to make the career pivot or to start to make the career pivot.

Have you always felt that teaching was not a good fit for you? Has it been some sort of rock bottom that you hit where out of nowhere you realized, “This is it, I can’t stay in this career any longer.” What was your motivation and how do you hold onto that motivation for this next try? What were your goals and expectations at the time that you tried to make a career pivot in the past? Did you make clear goals during the time that you were actually applying for jobs? Did you say, “Today I’m going to find 20 different jobs and apply to them and I’m going to go straight to the career pages. I’m not going to use LinkedIn Easy Apply, and I’m also going to make sure that I’m using an optimized resume. I’m not spraying and praying the same generic resume for customer success positions and project manager positions and curriculum writing positions because I’ve listened to the Teacher Career Coach podcast,” or, “I’m in the Teacher Career Coach course and I know that that is not something that’s going to be an effective use of my time.”

If you were doing that and you were expecting different results, is there something that you can do, a change to your strategy that can impact your success with those goals and those expectations? Next, think about what obstacles did you encounter during your career pivot? Were you finding yourself struggling with productivity and focus? This is one that I have been polling teachers and our audience about for a while now, and I’m learning that so many teachers were struggling with staying on social media or collecting different career experts to give them all of this conflicting advice, but they never really found themselves moving forward. They were just exhausted and burnt out and collecting advice without a clear project plan or a way to move forward. They also found themselves with the obstacle of imposter syndrome and the obstacles around time constraints when it comes to being so overworked in the classroom, and these are all very real and very hard obstacles to overcome.

But was there any change that you made to your strategy or is there any way that you can change your strategy that can impact your success this time? And last, how did you react to your potential, and I hate to call it a failure if you’ve listened to that past podcast episode, but how did you react when you did hit that roadblock or you did have a potential setback? If you had spent the last three months sending out a not so great resume and realizing that you wasted 50 applications with something that’s really not going to help you stand out against the rest of the competition, how did you react to learning that news? Did you talk down to yourself and say, it was never going to happen for you and that it was going to be completely impossible, and that all of this was your fault?

Or did you say to yourself, “Now I have new information and that’s part of the learning and growth process, and I’m ready to pick myself back up and continue to push forward because I know that this is what I truly want?” The unfortunate reality is that failure and rejection are to be expected in this career change no matter how qualified you are. Even the most qualified candidates are going to hear a majority of nos before they hear that one yes. But there are ways to stay motivated through it. There are ways to check and make sure that you are doing things that are working efficiently towards your goal. There are ways to have experts like the team from Teacher Career Coach do a resume review with you so that you feel really confident that you are able to apply. And even if you’re hearing a no, that no might not be a no because of your resume and you’ll be able to move on to the very next step of continuing to apply for jobs instead of revising your resume over and over and over again.

If you do have a good resume, there are things that you can do to make sure that you’re not just continuing to do the exact same cycle over and over again so that you can ultimately get to that one yes. But please do not let fear tell you that this is not possible for you, because when we tell ourselves that something is not possible for us, we give ourselves permission to completely give up putting in any effort towards it to protect ourselves from the pain and the hurt. That’s just what your brain wants to do. But the only way to actually guarantee failure in reaching your goal and reaching your North Star goal is to give up. So to reiterate, the very first step is going to be to address your mindset challenges and really reflect on any past career change attempts that you’ve tried to make in the past.

And then the next step is going to be putting together an action plan of more manageable steps, implementing changes from when you had hit those roadblocks in the past. Having a really big goal like your North Star goal once again is going to be really great for motivation, but it is most likely not going to start happening until you start making some really clear movements forward. And so let’s talk about what the movement forward should look like in the sequence it should happen in.

Daphne explains why career clarity is the first step in a manageable transition plan

First, you need to get some career clarity around what your next role or potential path is going to look like. If you are using a resume and applying for all types of different positions, you are not standing out for any position. And if you are trying to revise your resume to say that you’re a UX designer and a curriculum writer, and a project manager and a corporate trainer, you are spending a lot of time focusing on so many different paths that you’re likely burning yourself out.

So start to think about groups of careers that are a better fit for you, and then those are the types of roles that you’re going to be focused on applying to, and they’re going to have different titles at different companies. It’s going to be a little bit tricky if this is your first time going into a corporate environment, which it is for so many teachers, but this is the step that’s going to save you so much exhaustion and time because once you put in this hard work to figuring out what you would thrive in, what types of positions you are going to stand out for in the interview process or what types of positions are less competitive or what types of positions are within the salary needs that you need for the first year of leaving teaching, that’s where you can start to really tune out the rest of the noise and people trying to tell you advice about things that aren’t relevant to your search.

That’s where you don’t have to spend extra hours looking at every job posting that ever has existed because you can start to identify the ones that are more aligned with what your resume is optimized for. And that means the next step would be learning to read those job descriptions and making sure you understand what the qualifications are so that yes, when your resume is optimized towards those positions, you are still tweaking them because every role is going to be unique and different. A training manager at one position may be asking you to be bilingual while a training manager in another position may be really heavily focused on you understanding the Microsoft Product suite, and you’ll want to make sure those bullet points are clear on your resume to make sure that you are standing out for those positions.

You’ll also want to know which types of positions are looking for things that are a little bit more flexible and open to career transitioners and which ones are going to be more of a long shot that you should still apply for, but you may need to do more upskilling towards to really stand out for those types of roles. And once again, your roles can be aligned with your core values and they can be aligned with your North Star goal, but you can allow for some flexibility here. You can say, “In five to 10 years, I’d love to find a remote position, but I know that right now remote positions are harder to find. So I’d like to get my foot in the door with a company so that then I’ll be able to have that on my resume and apply for remote positions beating out the competition in three years time.”

There’s going to be some adapting and flexibility built into this plan, and it’s so important to remember that whatever you’re choosing outside of the classroom does not have to be your forever career. Outside of the classroom, people change careers all the time, but it is important to realize what is important to you and what is a non-negotiable so that you have all of that written down before you pick your path, before you start applying to positions. Some positions are far more likely to be in person roles. Some positions are far more likely to start at a different salary point than other positions, and so getting clear on what you need right now versus what you are going to work towards as a North Star goal is so important.

Daphne discusses how preparing your resume, networking plan, and interview skills are the next steps in a manageable transition plan

The key piece that is going to really help you get any position outside of the classroom is your interview strategy, your networking strategy and ultimately your resume.

And the resume is the most frustrating part out there because there are so many people who are guessing on what is an effective resume. There are posts after post after post on LinkedIn giving their best resume advice, and then you look at the person’s qualifications and they’ve never been in hiring or recruiting. They’re just selling a resume writing service because they’re making money off of career transitioners or they’re a career transition themselves who are just playing a game of telephone with different types of advice that they’ve heard, not really knowing whether or not it’s going to be effective for every position or specific types of positions or effective at all, and unfortunately, this is the piece that keeps people stuck for so long. People are pulled in every which direction, doing revision after revision after revision of their resumes, not sure if it works properly, and that’s exhausting, and I want that to stop for you this year.

If you have worked with an expert or if you’re planning to work with an expert, please check their qualifications. Look for success stories, look for testimonials. Look to see if you can find a wide variety of people who have actually worked with them and that they’ve been doing it for a long time and that they have experience in recruiting and hiring at a corporate environment, not their own company that they’ve created on their own. Just a lot of different things that you can do to really make sure that the people that you’re working with are going to be giving you the best and most effective advice. And then the next piece is if you are just getting on LinkedIn, making sure your LinkedIn is not red flagging you.

We have an entire past podcast episode that once again, you’re getting out your sticky note, you’re writing down your to-do list, go back and listen to our episode about getting started on LinkedIn and also our episode on how to stand out in a competitive market, and also our episode on how to vet career advice because the second you get on LinkedIn, everybody’s an expert on everything, and those are our best pieces of advice on this podcast that can help you with all of the nuances of getting on LinkedIn for the first time and making sure that you’re not red flagging yourself. Because if you are applying with a really amazing resume, but they’re going on your LinkedIn and they’re seeing some red flags, you may be getting skipped over and not really ever understanding necessarily why, thinking it’s your resume, redoing your resume over and over again, but it’s actually your LinkedIn that they’re checking and they’re starting to see some issues and they’re just not interviewing you based on that.

The next step would be to really get your interview practice in, especially right before your application season. You should be able to really strongly articulate why you are a really great fit for the role. And this answer should not be just saying, “I’m a former teacher and because I’m a former teacher that makes me qualified for this role.” Because if you’re up against a hundred other former teachers who are saying the exact same thing, you are not going to be able to stand out. You’re going to really need to understand the role, the company, what types of questions they’re going to ask about the position and how your unique passions, your unique experiences as a teacher, your unique accomplishments as a career professional are really going to make you the best candidate for this position. You want to put goal tests in for yourself and hold yourself accountable.

You can ask yourself, “Am I making progress on this every single week this year?” You can ask yourself, “Am I following too many experts? Am I getting pulled in too many directions? Have I not really felt like I moved forward at all in the last month or two, even though I’ve been working on it?” And at the end of the day or the week or the month, you have to tell yourself if you completed your progress or if you didn’t. It’s just a yes or no question. And when things get hard, look back on your North Star goal to help keep you motivated. Look back at the Teacher Career Coach Instagram to see all the former teachers who are continuing to make progress, who are continuing to find new roles outside of the classroom to remind you that this is possible for you.

Daphne shares that the Teacher Career Coach Course can provide you with the most transition support

And if you are looking for a step-by-step action plan to help you with resume writing, picking a new path, working past very specific roadblocks that many other teachers have found themselves in, but been able to work past with the help of our team, you want to look at the Teacher Career Coach Course. It offers a project plan to help keep you motivated so you know how many hours you should be working per week on each of these tasks, especially if you have a very specific time window that you’re trying to get your applications ready to go by.

It has time-saving templates. It has all of the resources to help you do the how to all of these steps, including classroom to corporate translations that teachers have used to help them land new positions, talk about how their skills translate into a way that hiring managers really understand for your resumes, for your interviews, when you’re sending out cover letters or introductions and networking, these are the types of resources that may be the puzzle piece that was missing on your last career change attempt. And New Year’s is one of the best times for you to get started with the Teacher Career Coach Course because there are so many teachers who get started right at this moment. So join us at teachercareercoach.com/course to learn more about this program, all of its benefits, see some of the many success stories it’s had.

But ultimately, the choice is up to you on what types of action steps from this entire podcast episode you plan to take this next year. What I hope that you can get is some clarity on what your big goals are going to be. I hope that you can get some motivation to help you move forward when times get ultimately hard, but I also hope that you can use this brand new start to really push forward on these goals and remind yourself that anything is possible, and that this can be the year that your entire life changes.

I am so grateful for you for being here in our community, and I’m so excited to see where you go this year and in the next five to 10 years. Thank you so much for listening to the Teacher Career Coach Podcast. Happy New Year’s, and we’ll see you on the very next episode.

Mentioned in the episode:

  • Our career path quiz at www.teachercareercoach.com/quiz
  • Explore the course that has helped thousands of teachers successfully transition out of the classroom and into new careers: The Teacher Career Coach Course (If you are a Teacher Career Coach Course member, you can also sign up for our one-on-one Career Clarity calls.)

Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course