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Make Your Career New Year’s Resolutions Work

Set Yourself Up for Success

Just as in everyday life, most of us look at the New Year as the perfect opportunity to set meaningful career goals. The key is whether we stay mindful of those objectives, have an action plan to execute on them, and can avoid distraction that derail us from them through to the end of the year.

What are some of the most common work-related New Year’s resolutions? Most often, to more effectively follow one’s passions in job-seeking; prioritize better or work smarter in order to have more personal time; become a better communicator and presenter; reduce stress; and increase status and/or compensation level. But how can you achieve them? Here are some tips:

Follow Your Passions – If you’re looking for a job, you may be happy just to get the interview in 2013. But you also may be thinking, how can I find a position that will be in line with what I really enjoy doing? You may also be wondering how to invigorate your existing job. You’re wise to see things from this perspective. You don’t want to settle. Job seeking is a time consuming and emotional process. The feeling of “beggars can’t be choosers” in this time of higher unemployment can make that goal of holding out for a dream job seem daunting. Still, stay with your gut. If you choose the job that will get you up in the morning, you’re more likely to excel - and earn more in the long run.

This also can apply to your current position. You may be able to modify your job description within the same company and do more of what you enjoy. The company has invested in you and a slight shift in your role and responsibilities may be a win-win. In this scenario, the squeaky wheel may get the grease; so don’t overlook the possibilities.

Work Smarter – Become diligent in establishing and updating priorities hourly if need be. Understand that the more flexible your mindset, the more likely you will handle urgent matters first, and less crucial matters later. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Become comfortable with setting realistic expectations with yourself and with your boss. Maximize your skills set with the projects that align best with them.

Know that there are times to delegate projects that are outside your scope. Learn to part with pet projects that don’t bring the results you’re expected to achieve. It’s critical to avoid being distracted from the goal you set at the beginning of the year – unless you’ve shifted direction. It’s easy to stray when other opportunities arise. But if you have the latitude to delegate or choose, use that authority so that you remain on track.

Become a Better Communicator and Presenter – Being a better communicator is always a worthy New Year’s resolution. Consider joining a local Toastmaster club or adult education class for presentation skills. If you think your business writing could use a refresher course, consider an online college or adult education course. You can also pick up a book or e-book and learn the ropes if you’re self-motivated. Having strong communications skills often separate a great employee from a good one.

The best ideas on the planet will remain stagnant if you can’t package and persuade. Oral and written communications and being able to think on your feet will help advance your career significantly.

Reduce Stress – One excellent way to reduce stress is to gain better control by managing up. Although the term has been overused, the skill has been understated. Most bosses barely have time to get their job done, save overseeing yours. In the process, hasty decisions can be made; not enough time may be spent upfront on a project; your wishes may not be heard; there may be misalignment with what you can achieve and when, and so on.

So here's your opportunity in 2013 to take your boss by the proverbial hands and set meetings, goals, and your agenda. If you are reactive, don’t be surprised if you also are more stressed out, juggling more than you can handle. But if you present logical “to do” lists and provide leadership, you will advance.

Increase status and compensation level in an organization – One of the most common pitfalls for any employee is not their technical “performance” or ability to do the job. It’s about personality conflicts, no matter how high in the company. This supports why people don’t really leave jobs; they leave their managers.

If you want to get that promotion and commensurate raise, be mindful of the “people factor.” Most employees naturally get defensive when times are tough and their managers are tense. However, if you can see through the blustering around you to the real problem at hand, show empathy, put people at ease, and role model leadership behavior through positive and negative reinforcement - you will go far.

While most people make some strides towards their New Year’s Resolutions, most are not 100 percent successful at achieving all of them. It’s human nature to be more positive at the start of something new – especially a new calendar year. But if you can stay vigilant year-round and keep your goals at the forefront all year, you'll thrive in your career.

It can be like hitting the reset button on your work life and not letting anyhing deter you. At this time of year - for a brief time, you realize that you are the driver of your career – your boss does not direct your career path. This realization isn’t generally top of mind 365 days of the year, or employees would advance much faster. It’s easy to become reactive and a follower in one’s job.

New Year’s resolutions can “stretch” you, but try to make them realistic so you set yourself up for success. Create broad goals and then subsets of more specific objectives that will get you there. Your timeframe is in your hands. Perhaps you can look at every workday as New Year’s - to remind you of your untapped potential.

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