10 New Year's Resolutions to Amp Up Your Career
Here's how to spend 2017 reveling in success.
Digital Exclusive - 2017
New Year’s resolutions—they always seem to be about doing less of something we really like—I will party less; I will eat less chocolate; I will spend less time binge-watching Netflix. Or more of something we really don’t like—I will go to the gym more. I will eat more broccoli. I will read more of the classics (War & Peace anyone?).
Whether we’re talking about doing something more or doing something less, every resolution is designed to make us healthier, happier, more productive people. And so, as you look towards 2017 and think about the career you wish you had, use these 10 resolutions to set yourself on a new track.
1. I will connect more
The New Year—what better time to connect and reconnect? Since a vast number of the career opportunities out there aren’t advertised but rather are bantered between people who know people who know people who know people, make the resolution to connect more. That means sending that “Hi, how are things going in your corner of the world?” text or email, joining a business club, attending professional association meetups, and blogging more, posting more and commenting more to broaden your intel and influence. Adding recruiters into the mix never hurts either.
2. I will join a board or committee
Joining a board or committee is certainly an aspect of your “connecting more” resolution. But in addition to the networking opportunities this type of service offers, you’ll also benefit from gaining experience in a different arena, developing skills in collaborative leadership and decision-making, and potentially working for a cause you love—think Habitat for Humanity, Victory Gardens Theater and the Anti-Cruelty Society. When it comes to your resume, highlighting your volunteer work will mean only good things.
3. I will market myself
Marketing yourself is more a matter of showcasing than bragging. Take a fresh look at your online presence. Are all your accomplishments and accolades up to date? Are they easy for visitors to find? How’s your profile picture looking? Then take the concept of a “digital you” one step further by setting up a personalized website through services such as Strikingly.com. A personalized site functions as a type of digital portfolio or resume that presents your work in an engaging, highly visual way. And it’s a great place to direct potential employers who want to know a little more about you.
4. I will find a sponsor
Just about everyone is familiar with a mentor, but a sponsor is a different breed of career facilitator. Sponsors are actively invested in your success—much as an agent might be. Typically heralding from the upper echelons of a firm or company, sponsors will make it their mission to connect you to the people and the organizations that will make things happen in your career. They will promote you, support you and advise you as you climb up the ladder. Not surprisingly then, they’re looking for top achievers with their eyes on the prize.
5. I will gain more skills
Take an objective look at all you have to offer an employer. Be honest about where the gaps are and work to fill them. For instance, if you’re a statistics whizz but can’t write a blog for the life of you, take a composition course and launch a blog touting your exceptional industry knowledge. Or if you’re a great team player but you’re a deer in headlights when you have to give a presentation, try a public speaking class or improv workshop to help you conquer your fears.
6. I will ask for more help
It’s easy to become a “wait, it’s easier if I do it myself” workaholic. Or a “are you sure you’ve checked and double-checked?” micromanager. Knowing when to delegate—and how to delegate—will free up your time for the higher-level activities that will prep you for that higher-level role. It also will inspire greater loyalty and confidence among your team members, and likely boost output as well.
7. I will ask for what I want
If you feel like you haven’t been getting the professional development opportunities you want and need, or the hardware/software support that would send your productivity soaring, resolve to ask for them in 2017. The key is to back-up every one of your requests—you’re not just asking for something; you’re showing the powers that be why getting what you want will benefit your team and the organization as a whole. The same goes for asking for more money, or more responsibility, or that assignment everybody wants. Think of it as an all-important presentation, where you’re articulating the goal, why you’re qualified for and worthy of that goal, and what it will mean to the bottom line once you’ve reached it.
8. I will keep my options open
Whether or not you’re actively looking for a job, consider every opportunity that presents itself. If a recruiter calls, call them back. If a recruiter asks for your help in finding candidates for a position that might not be suited to you, take the time to help. If a recruiter messages you on LinkedIn to make an introduction, message them right back. The same goes for your day-to-day work. If you’re offered the chance to work on something outside your traditional scope of responsibility, seriously consider doing it. The more experience you get, the more skills you have, and the more in demand you will be.
9. I will make more ‘me’ time
Burn out looms large in many professional lives—repetitive work, high accountability, long hours, hectic schedules. It all takes its toll. If you’re burned out, though, you’re not doing your best work. Added to that, you won’t have the energy, focus or impetus to navigate the next step up the professional ladder. However busy your work life is, find an hour or two every week to take a break and do something you love—read a book, ride your bike, hike a nature trail—whatever it takes to unwind, regroup and focus.
10. I will grow a thicker skin
Constructive criticism is invaluable to one’s professional growth. But it is, at its core, still criticism, and therefore hard to hear. The key is to not sit silently fuming about it or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, launch into a tirade of defensiveness. Instead, explore and learn. Ask for clarification, ask for examples, and ask how the situation or task might have been handled differently. Also, be objective. Despite what your goals or motivations might have been, your words and actions might have appeared quite different from a peer or supervisor’s point of view. Most importantly, though, see every criticism as the means to construct a more productive, better informed, leadership-worthy you.