Happy New Year! Ah, 2016 has arrived and in our new calendars we hold a blank canvas in front of us, to scribble in self-improvements and fill in goals we say we’re going to accomplish over the next 365 days (thank you, Leap Year, for allowing me to procrastinate this article by one day!). If you are looking to improve yourself professionally, personally, and financially, then there are many things you can implement into daily, weekly, and quarterly habits.
Whether you love your job and just want to gain more responsibilities, you loathe your job and are itching to jump to another one, or you just feel stuck and are not sure of what to do… 2016 should be the year of focus and positive change. The beginning of a new year is a great time to plan and plant the seeds so you can reap the rewards.
So let’s get to the 5 resolutions to take control of your career!
1. Plan, Plan, Plan
Where do you want to be by the end of this year? What about in the next 3 to 5 years? Can you see your current situation getting you there? What skills are you missing? Are your company and your boss supporting your goals?
Your end goal might be broad and general (e.g. make more money, get promoted, find a new job). Ask yourself why your end goal is important to you and keep asking yourself, “How will I get there?” Once you have mini goals that are defined as SMART, your goals are what you should focus on throughout the year.
2. Honest Progress Evaluations
Planning is important, but equally important and less emphasized are honest self-evaluations. Once you come up with SMART goals, it’s time to evaluate on how often you should check in to give an honest progress evaluation. Perhaps your goal was, “I’m going to network with industry peers via X Organization and networking events once a month.” (BTW – Eventbrite, Meetup, and local chapters of your organizations are great networking opportunities!) Then each month it is critical that you evaluate yourself and decide if you are on track. If not, what prevented you from reaching that goal? Would it be helpful to make up for it by attending two the next month? Remember, you are only cheating yourself in the end if you’re not honest with yourself.
3. Grow Your Network
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African Proverb
Perhaps you feel content with where you are today, you might think to yourself you have all the connections you need. One of my candidates who had been with the same employer for 15 years told me that was her mentality until she was recently laid off. Networking isn’t about asking for favors or help the same day or the next day. Effective networking only happens over time by proving your character and skills, and by fostering meaningful relationships. If you want to grow close to those with your same skill sets or meet potential clients, you must put yourself out there not once, not twice, but regularly. The quote, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you,” is a classic example of why it is important to grow your network.
4. Get Involved
With a simple Google search these days, you can find many national and local organizations that are relevant to what you care about. Perhaps you are not ready to take on the commitments of being on a committee board, but even becoming an active member or volunteer is a great way to become more involved. With more regular attendance and collaborating closely with those in the organization, you not only have something to add to your resume, but an ability to meet those that matter in your industry. This is a great tool for those that are looking for an industry or career change.
5. Update Your Resume/LinkedIn Profile/Online Portfolio
Everyone should have an updated resume because you just never know what is going to happen. A resume should be a final document, free of grammatical errors and spelling, that captures everything up to your current job. If seeking out a new opportunity crosses your mind frequently, you should have one that captures the main accomplishments of your current job too. More importantly, make sure you update your LinkedIn profile, as it is an evolving document, accessible to hiring managers and recruiters looking for your skill sets. If you’re looking to tap into a different industry other than the one you are currently in, try creating an online portfolio of your side work.
Cheers to a productive and successful 2016 – to promotions, new jobs, new skills learned, new start up ventures – and most importantly, finding joy in your work! If you’re looking for more inspiration, heck out these 4 life lessons everyone can grow from..