With 2012 fast approaching, it may be time to think about your longer term goals. You now have some time over the holidays to do so. Under normal circumstances, texts, calls, e-mails, conferences, websites, Podcasts, pop-ups, webcasts, tweets, LinkedIn mail, links, and even live beings popping into your physical space - added to tending to your personal life - make some self reflection nearly impossible.
How can you create New Year's career resolutions that could create years of job satisfaction - or save you years of frustration? You might even take a few minutes to start thinking about it early in the morning at work, on your lunch hour or at the end of the day, especially if the office pace starts to slow down.
New Year's Career Resolution Starters
Let's assume that you've bought into this idea of strategizing now for what you really want in 2012 and beyond. What are some empowering ideas that might be helpful in your work life long term? Here are three ideas to consider:
1) I Will Assume Success. Your positive attitude is seen in your facial expression, posture, as well as tone and speed of voice. Ever see a photo or video of yourself and have a reaction of surprise, good or bad? You have every right to be confident in your work. Give yourself a nudge as an experiment, even, dare I say, especially when things are not looking up.
A lot has been written about positive thinking, envisioning your success and staying focused. Some believe that it just adds more pressure in the workplace, and ask, "What if I'm not positive all the time? Then clearly I'm doomed in my career." Clearly, that's the downside of such a powerful popular tenet. But it can also be a simple, encouraging message used in a dose personally acceptable to you.
Employees are drawn to enthusiastic people who motivate others. Why not find a unique way to have fun with what you do 40-plus hours a week? What if, when under stress, you viewed your office as a playground, but you were the parent (one of my perspectives). If there's no way under the sun to do so, then find your real passion so that you can.
2) I'll Stop Expecting the Impossible of Myself. If you are an overachiever or have decided that, to be brutally honest, you are really unhappy, and working to the point of exhaustion, then you know your career resolution. If this sounds like you, you likely have very few days of euphoria where you completed your entire "To Do list" to your satisfaction.
You might have to catch yourself a little bit every day - either deciding to become more realistic about your day's goals - or choosing to be less perfectionistic in how you perform them. Your other option of course, is to walk this path of destruction for years until you have nothing more to give anyone, including yourself!
For example, if you work for a Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT), a childish, bad boss - and must start to diplomatically set limits to the flood of impossible assignments - this might be the time to draw the line in the sand - for the sake of your sanity and health.
Try doing this. First, think really hard about why you're reaching for daily miracles (who are you ultimately trying to impress, and why?) Second, reduce your objectives to only 70 percent of your original goals. Then after achieving them successfully, you will likely avoid that former state of ongoing frustration. The shift to your ultimate career resolution will take time. So be patient and forgiving with yourself.
3) I'll Take the First Communications Leap. One of the biggest unwitting mistakes made in the workplace today by both manager and employee, study after study, is that everyone is afraid to step up the plate and talk through conflict. Not an uncommon problem in the world at large, so not surprising. In the office, the manager wants to avoid confrontation; the employee is fearful of irritating the "bad boss"; and so the boss/employee gap begins. Fissures become streams become rivers. To close the metaphor, you can take action to "bridge" the communications gap.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and there's a great deal to be gained, especially for you. Your career resolution to proactively reach out, is a long term skill that can be honed daily, from job to job (hoping, of course, there won't be scores of those!) In every independent study we've conducted (available online) - job anxiety is an astounding time waster not only during the workweek, but during weekends, too. Open communications can start with you.
Have you ever taken a chance and made small talk with a stranger while you were in a public place? After you took the leap and said the first few words, in most cases, you probably got a warm reception. If the timing is right with your boss, and you know "conditions are favorable," make the effort. Worrying in a silent standoff is too rampant today. You have unique skills and the company has invested in you. So take a chance and reach out using diplomacy if the matter is sensitive.
Little by little, your New Year's Career Resolution could gradually change your life in tangible ways you never imagined. And you can start on it today.