As another year draws to a close, many professionals begin identifying ways to improve in the year ahead. Some people dismiss New Year’s resolutions as a waste of time, but experts believe that goal-setting increases our well-being. And what are resolutions if not a lofty set of goals?
Of course, goal setting can happen anytime, but there’s something about the hopefulness of a new year that makes setting resolutions almost irresistible. So after you countdown to midnight and share a toast to welcome the turning of another page, check out this list of career resolutions for the new year.
Sign up for a class
Serious professionals know that learning doesn’t end with a diploma. It’s a lifelong pursuit. Pick a skill or area you want to master and take a class. Talk to your employer about providing tuition assistance for a certificate program or leadership academy. If cost is a concern, edX offers hundreds of free online classes from some of the nation’s top universities. Pick an area you’d like to learn more about, and make the commitment by enrolling while your motivation is still burning bright.
Expand your network
Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, networking is a career must. A LinkedIn profile is great, but in-person networking allows you to connect with others in a way that just isn’t possible through email and social media channels. Attend a BNI chapter event, join your local chamber of commerce or Junior League, or check out Meetup for other groups in your area. Then, remember to keep your eyes, ears, and mind open to new opportunities.
Cultivate a habit
When we’re looking to make a change, it’s tempting to try to do everything at once, which often leads to feelings of failure. Instead, think of one thing that you really want to do on a daily basis to improve your career and focus on that. Maybe you want to boost your productivity by making a to-do list at the end of each day or checking email only at designated intervals. According to a 2009 study, the average time it takes for a new habit to stick is 66 days, so focus on making that habit stick for at least two months before adding other habits to your daily routine.
Use your vacation time
The competitive world of business, we often wear 24/7/365 schedules as a badge of honor. In fact, according to a 2016 report from Project: Time Off, more than half of American workers left some vacation time unused in 2015, which added up to 658 million unused vacation days! This failure to disconnect has a serious downside. Working too much can negatively affect your health, lead to burnout, and ultimately make you less passionate and engaged in your job. The end of the year is a great time to plan out how to spend your vacation time for the next year. Make it a priority to use all of your time off that you can return to work with more enthusiasm, ready to take on the new (and old) tasks that await you.
Stay focused on the positive
When you’re trying to make changes in your life and career, it’s easy to let setbacks get you down. You might start skipping some of those networking events you registered for, forget to make that nightly to-do list or fall back into letting email interruptions derail your productivity. Just keep in mind that it’s all about progress, not perfection. Start or end each day by reminding yourself what has gone well. It’s not about turning a blind eye to problems. It’s about celebrating your wins, while recognizing challenges and learning to see the opportunities in each one.
Working on your career is a year-round process, but why not let the energy and excitement of a new year motivate you to make this your best year yet? Don’t worry if you slip up. Stay committed to your goals, and you’ll be proud of yourself by year’s end.
If one of your resolutions is to find a new job, check out our opportunities here.