It’s the start of another New Year. The glitz and glitter of the holiday festivities is rapidly fading as you struggle to focus on your work life once again. For many it’s the time of year to reflect on the past and vow to make changes or improvements on the the year to come. Both personally and professionally.
If your personal life needs examination and or changes, then you are on your own. I can’t help you there. However, if it’s your professional life that you are examining, then I can offer a few tips and advice.
Whether you wish to improve your current work situation, are seeking a promotion or want a new job or career altogether, there are a few things you can do to help yourself achieve those goals.
1. Set realistic goals. It’s good to dream big, but without a plan you’ll be sitting here at this time next year kicking yourself for not achieving yet another set of goals. Instead of simply hoping and dreaming, try to identify the outcome you want. Once you’ve done that, identify what’s standing in your way. Then, develop a plan to overcome those obstacles. Starting at the top and working backwards can help you develop a realistic plan.
2. For many career goals fall into two buckets. Happiness or Money. We all need money, a certain amount anyway. Simply chasing money isn’t a good career plan and it certainly won’t make you happy. Conversely, you can’t be paid enough to work at a job you hate. Sooner or later and generally sooner, your dissatisfaction will resurface and you’ll be wanting more money yet again. The key is to find a balance between happiness and money. It’s different for everyone, but if you can find the point where happiness (i.e., job satisfaction) and money intersect, then you will ultimately be more content.
3. Find your purpose. Identify why it is you do what you do or, if you are seeking a career change, what’s compelling you to do what you are seeking to do. Focus on that aspect(s) of your career. Learn everything you can and keep learning. Whether it’s in the classroom, on your lunch hour or on your sofa at night, research. Become an expert in your field or industry.
4. Create more choices. Whether your goal is to advance within your organization, land a new job or career, create choices. Be open to and explore new opportunities. The more choices you have, the less trapped you will feel. The less trapped you feel, the happier you’ll be.
5. Social Media. Brand yourself professionally. If you haven’t done so, clean up your Social Media presence. People are looking. Your boss, HR, potential employers. Our lives are becoming more and more transparent. Don’t let pictures or status posts of last weekend’s drunk-fest derail your career. Some people think that avoiding Social Media altogether is a way to fly under the radar. Having no professional Social Media presence in this day and age is just as damaging as having a “bad” Social Media presence. It’s akin to not having a resume.
6. Update your resume. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, it’s important to update your resume at least once a year. The New Year is as good a time as any. Add all those new skills, accomplishments and awards you won last year. Do it now while the information is fresh.
7. Focus on what matters. In your current role or in your job search, results matter. So much of what we do each day isn’t really important and doesn’t get us any closer to achieving our goals. Think about the tasks you performed today. How much of it was productive and allowed you to check things off your list? How much of it was counter productive and kept you from checking things off your list? Don’t let yourself or anyone else take you off task.
8. Network. Always network. Whether you are on the clock, at your kid’s soccer game, the tire store, etc. Network. You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities you’ll uncover.
9. Polish your elevator speech. You know, that bio you give when someone asks you what you do. Since you are going to be doing so much networking, you need to be able to explain your career or career goals in a clear, concise manner. Having a polished elevator speech can be the opening to a more meaningful dialog and get you one step closer to achieving your goals.