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Friday, 30 December 2016

Need A New Year's Resolution? 10 Ideas For A Stronger Career In 2017

As we finish off one year and prepare to start the next, it’s a good time to think about how we want 2017 to be better, which for purposes of this column means a better career. Here are 10 ideas for new year’s resolutions to adopt for a stronger career in 2017:

1. I will stay in touch.
You can start the networking habit with a holiday mailing. You can continue by reaching out in the new year to ask about people’s holidays. You can make additional contacts throughout the year by dedicating your lunch hour to meeting up with people and getting out from behind your desk, or reconnecting with at least one person you don’t see day-to-day. Even if you only do this once per week, that’s 52 chances for staying in touch.

2. I will manage my professional online presence.
You probably already surf your social media platforms of choice to keep in touch personally. From a professional standpoint, you can extend your outreach to a broader network (to help with #1-staying in touch!) and you can post about topics in your industry or functional expertise. You can also update your profiles, including your picture (it needs to look like you do now, not five years ago).

3. I will preserve my focus.
One of the most common obstacles for my clients when reaching for a career goal is the fatigue factor – most are working a hectic, complex day job and feel too depleted to take on something else. Unfortunately, that something else is often what they really should be focused on – the search for a more ideal job, the pursuit of a promotion, the transition to a new career. If this sounds like you, then make 2017 the year you carve out specific time before, during and at the end of each day to take action on your “real” career aspiration, not the one you happened to be assigned to in your day job.

4. I will maintain my energy.
Part of the focus problem stems from a lack of energy. Demanding jobs are physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. This means that in addition to preserving a focus on career action, you need to focus on preserving your energy reserves. Exercise, meditation, enough sleep, and good eating habits are all career moves when they give you the stamina to make that extra push.

5. I will spend my mornings wisely.
Adopting a good energy habit is a logical candidate for how you might remake your morning. If the days seem to get away from you before you get the important stuff done, create a new morning routine. Take one hour and spend 20 minutes each on exercise, meditation and reading. Or spend 10 minutes each and add additional habits, such as journaling, prioritizing the day, or reconnecting with your network (staying in touch!). Or resolve to spend the morning on your most important task. Whatever you decide, if you get your morning right, even if the rest of the day does get away from you, you will have at least have accomplished one thing.

6. I will stretch.
You could take this point literally and add stretching to your morning routine, which would also be a good idea. But from a career standpoint, stretching means doing something outside your day-to-day and perhaps beyond your comfort zone. This could mean taking on a cross-functional activity (which could be joining an employee resource group or even the company sports league). It could be stretching for a leadership role (which could be a committee role in your community non-profit and not necessarily at your current job).

7. I will grow.
You want to take on new activities outside your day-to-day so you keep yourself challenged and grow your career. You can also grow by updating old and developing new skills and expertise. Definitely see what your company offers, but you can also find professional development opportunities for yourself by tapping resources in your own network and community.

8. I will ask for what I want.
Of course, if your company doesn’t offer the professional development opportunities you’re seeking, you could ask for them. Learning to ask for what you want is a critical career skill, and finding opportunities to ask is the only way you’ll get practice at this. Ask for training, ask to attend a conference, ask for a membership to your industry association, ask for a mentor, ask for feedback so you can identify areas to develop (and strengths to build on).

9. I will be marketable.
You want to keep growing and developing so you maintain your career value. Even if you aren’t actively looking for a new job, you always want to be marketable. A change in business conditions or new management can quickly alter your otherwise comfortable situation. In addition to keeping your skills and expertise updated, you stay marketable with resolution 1-staying in touch. If your network doesn’t already include recruiters and other people active in the career field, then make it a priority to develop relationships here. Finally, your marketability means you have updated tools, like resolution 2-a professional online presence, as well as a resume and cover letter template (so you can quickly put together an introduction of yourself and your value when you need to).

10. I will keep my options open.
You don’t need to actively look for a job, but resolve to keep your options open. Return recruiter calls. Look at LinkedIn invites you don’t automatically recognize. Don’t be so quick to dismiss a request to work on something outside your normal expertise. While you don’t want to overextend yourself unnecessarily, you might have gone the opposite extreme, where you’re only interacting with people you already know, working on assignments you know you can do, and keeping the same rut, I mean schedule, day-in and day-out. Keep your options open by keeping an open mind.

You may already be doing some of these things but not others. Think about whether you want to focus on doing more with the good habits you already have, or on adopting new habits altogether. If all or many of these are of interest to you, consider focusing on one at a time – making a 30-day commitment to just one and then building from there or switching it up if you want variety. If you resolve to do just one more activity than you did this year, it will already be an improvement.

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