Many of us have resolutions on the brain at the start of the year. But instead of following the crowd and aspiring to lose weight, fall in love or save money, maybe you should consider establishing some career-related resolutions. In 2015 we expect to see ever-increasing confidence in the economy, increased recruitment activity and rising salaries, making this the time to set yourself some clear and realistic career goals (and stick to them).
But it’s one thing to set goals — to network more, learn to meditate, compete in a triathlon — and quite another to actually achieve them. What are the best resolutions to make? How do you turn your aspirations into reality?
Whether you're actively looking for a new opportunity this year or are simply looking for some big career wins in the New Year, here are seven achievable resolutions that will jump-start your career.
1. Update your CV – whether you’re job-searching or not
Employees usually don’t update their CVs, which can make it harder to describe achievements that took place a few months or even years ago. Instead of waiting until you’re next job-searching, you should update your CV (and LinkedIn profile) after you have achieved something, including the results that came from the achievements.
This will also make you mindful of what you want to accomplish to move ahead in 2015, so you’ll be more proactive and motivated at work instead of just going through the motions.
2. Create Specific Career Goals
Before you set those New Year's resolutions, ask yourself: What does ‘moving forward' mean for me? More money? More autonomy? More responsibility? Effective goals are personal, quantifiable and attainable.
The results must be measurable; if you achieve your goals and your company doesn't recognize you for those achievements, maybe next year's goal should be to find a new employer who will!
3. Map out the Specific Tasks for your Goals
Ok, so you’ve figured out what you want to achieve. Now you need to map out the actionable steps and a timeline for you to get there. Remember that these need to be achievable and sustainable – resist the temptation to be overly ambitious!
Feeling stumped? Some of the tasks we’ve set ourselves at Burns Sheehan include: reading a professional development book every month, writing a LinkedIn article every week, or attending a networking event every month.
4. Make the Most of your Digital Footprint
With workplaces getting increasingly digitalised and smartphones and productivity apps becoming a way of life, you have to keep up with the latest technology and optimize your digital presence. If you work in the tech industry, it’s particularly important that you stay abreast of the constant changes in your space.
As well as keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date, you should use this channel to stay connected with friends, former colleagues and trusted recruiters in the industry. This will give you access to industry news and information and awareness of the best career opportunities on the market. Twitter is also an excellent social media channel for these purposes, so if you don’t have one yet now is the time to enter the Twittersphere.
5. Find a Work Mentor
Finding the perfect mentor could be the only thing standing between you and a successful career. Yet most people don't bother trying to engage with mentors at all. Many successful leaders, such as Richard Branson, believe that mentoring can be the difference between a promising businessperson and a successful one.
On entrepreneur.com, Phil Drolet advocated the need for pre-planning to target a dream mentor. According to Phil, "an ideal mentor for you will have achieved what you want to achieve and be someone you could see yourself going out for a drink with."
You can’t expect a mentor to do all the work though - if they are a suitable mentor then they will be extremely busy themselves. To get the most out of the relationship you have to be forward, following up on initial conversations and showing enthusiasm for your mentorship. Send well-crafted emails, make calls and follow up thoroughly on advice.
6. Learn a New Skill
These days, workers are encouraged to be more cross-disciplinary so they can bring new skills and perspectives into the workplace. Learning a new skill – whether it be in coding, photography, or salsa dancing – boosts your creativity and confidence and allows you to approach your work in new and inventive ways. Investing your time to acquire a new skill will help you bring unique value to the table, making you an indispensable member of the team.
Fortunately, there are lots of free online courses in a wide range of different disciplines so you don’t have to break the bank or go out of your way to learn something new. The difficult part is just deciding what you want to do!
7. Establish a Productive Work-Life Balance
Much has been written about balancing work and personal life. But the idea that you can achieve a perfect and sustainable balance is a bit of a red herring. For most of us, work and life are essentially inseparable. Thanks to digital technology we’re accessible at all hours and all social media activity shapes our brand image and influences our career success.
It’s particularly hard to find a healthy work-life balance because we’ve been hardwired to think that by working hard we will achieve success and happiness. This logic leads us to spend years in a vicious cycle of exhaustion, stress and unhappiness. Many people self-confess to be ‘workaholics’ or ‘addicted to their blackberry’, but if they’re sacrificing their health and social life for work it’s likely they will burn out… ultimately jeopardizing their career aspirations.
But perhaps the inseparability of work and personal life isn’t such a bad thing. After all, it means that by we can modify our lifestyle outside the office to significantly boost our career prospects and performance.
In 2012 psychologist Shawn Achor gave an entertaining and genuinely brilliant TED talk on how happiness inspires productivity. Significant scientific research has proved that happiness – not hard work – fuels our success. Happier employees are more creative, engaged, and productive.. and more likely to be promoted.
What can you do to feel happier at work? Think about what changes you can make to your diet, sleeping patterns, exercise habits and social activities, and modify your daily routines accordingly.
Statistics show that roughly 45% of people make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% stick to them. Don’t be a part of the 92%. Commit to these 7 resolutions and make 2015 the year you accelerated your career progression!
Written by Izzy Griffin-Smith
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