Resolutions to Improve Your Career

Jan 06, 2014

A New Year offers a unique opportunity to step up your game and become laser focused. It is a great time to reflect on where you are in your professional life, how you’ve gotten there and where you want to go- and then plan how to achieve it.

To start the year off right, recognize your success before moving on to the next big thing. Think about what worked for you in 2013 and what you’d like to do differently in 2014. Be crystal clear on your priorities to help focus your energy when conflicting demands are made of your time.

Next, do an audit your current job. Important questions include: What do I love about my job? What would I change if I could? What are my road bumps or bottlenecks? How can those be eliminated or improved?

If you need help finding a focus for the year, see below the most popular career-related resolutions, along with tips to stick to them.

Get a Raise or Promotion
Promotions and raises have two parts: what you bring and what the company needs. The best way of proving that you offer what the company needs is to come up with a list of your daily responsibilities, the major projects you’ve worked on, projects you worked on that you weren’t asked to do, future responsibilities, examples of how you’ve made your boss’s job easier and if possible to quantify your accomplishments. Don’t mention how long you’ve been at the company – longevity doesn’t necessarily count but results do.  This is one of the most important conversations you can have and you should be highly prepared to have it!

Reduce Stress
Reflect on if the stress is coming from outside sources (your supervisor or colleagues) or if it’s self-induced from putting too much pressure on yourself. If it’s self-induced, start with simple steps such as getting a better sleep and doing light exercise, which are both proven to help with stress levels. Once excellent way to deal with work stress is by managing up. Most bosses barely have time to get their job done, save overseeing yours. Set meetings, goals and your agenda. If you present logical to-do lists and provide leadership you will thrive instead of leading reactive work days.

Be More Organized
There are two key areas that are very important to keep organized in all jobs: your calendar and desktop. Once you determine a system that works for you to manage your time more effectively, the more you will be able to accomplish at work which will lead you to be better at your job. Use an online calendar system that can be colour coded for various tasks to track how you are spending your time. Actively use the task management function as your check list to rid of cluttering post-it notes. Your desktop is a direct reflection on how you manage your job and executives do pay attention to it. Your office or desk is the first impression for anyone that is working with you to see how you manage your workload and how you take pride in your professional presence. Keeping a clean and organized work space can also help reduce stress!

Quit Your Job / Get a New Job
Whether you stick with your company or pursue a new job somewhere else, you need to take the time to figure out exactly what you want in a new job- and then ensure that your personal brand is accurately and professionally reflected in three key mediums: your online presence (LinkedIn profile and Google search links), your on-paper presence (resume and cover letter), and your in-person presence (your elevator speech).

Improve Your Work-Life Balance
Get clear on what your boundaries are, and stick to them so your colleagues start to know how best to work with you. Turning off email notifications while at home is an easy way to start the disconnect and take a break from the office. Part of this might be working more or fewer hours to adjust the balance and separation. Trying coming in earlier instead of staying late hours or really prioritize your work load and realize you can’t finish everything in one day. Recognize that taking time to live life will only inspire your work!

Improve Your Work Relationships
If there’s one relationship that you should constantly be focused on, it is with your boss. Most important tool you can use is communication. Let them know about your progress on important projects. Remind them you are there to help in any way possible. Ask them how you can be better at your job and have reviews about what expectations are. Cooperation with co-workers is also critical. While it might not always be possible to get along with everyone in your department, keep in mind that it’s in your best interest when the entire team looks good, not just you. Make an effort to get to know them better and offer help when they need it. Strong communication skills is often what separates a great employee from a good one, so consider taking a class or course to refresh and enhance this skill.

Have a Better Attitude
A positive attitude can make all the difference to achieving your career success in 2014. People want to work with someone who is proactive, positive and enthusiastic, so a good attitude will likely attract more opportunities your way. If you want to be more optimistic this year, you’ll need to take good care of yourself; spend time doing what makes you happy and learn to appreciate what you have (both in your professional and personal life).

To help stick to any goal, the best thing to do is get clear on the outcomes you want and what it takes to achieve them, set actions in your calendar so you really make time for your goals, and have accountability partners to keep you on track.

A trick for staying on track is to send yourself some predated e-mail messages. Write a half dozen e-mail messages to yourself, dated every other month. A few times a year you’ll get a reminder from your motivated self to get back in touch with important goals in your life.