New Year’s Career Resolutions: Do’s and Don’ts

New Year’s Career Resolutions: Do’s and Don’ts

It’s that time of year again when so many of us promise ourselves we’ll adopt healthier habits, read more books, and save more money. But here’s the thing: it can be challenging to find the time and motivation to keep the usual New Year’s resolutions. Think about it: on a Monday morning when it’s raining cats and dogs, are you really going to walk the five blocks from the subway station to the office when you can easily drive to work and leave the car in the parking garage next door? Or after a long day at work, would you rather spend your evening reading a book on the fine nuances of persuasion marketing… or binge watching Game of Thrones? Or if the office java just doesn’t give you the same zing as the jet fuel/espresso from the coffee shop in the lobby, should you really risk not being fully awake when you get to work?

Clearly, there are many reasons—or excuses, depending on how you look at it—to forget about your resolutions. But when it comes to your career, it’s different because you’re getting paid to improve! What’s more: everything you do to advance your career is an investment in your future. And especially now, when technological advancements are changing the workplace faster than ever before, you need to invest in your career development.

That’s why, even if you’ve never kept a single New Year’s resolution before in your life, 2017 is the year to start. Keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind.

  • Do clearly define your goals. In her Psychology Today article “5 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail… and 5 Steps to Successfully Fulfilling Them,” Beverly D. Flaxington explains that most people fail to keep their resolutions because they don’t clearly define their objectives. For example, instead of saying “I want to advance at work,” you could say, “I want to lead at least three projects this year so I can be considered for a promotion.”
  • Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Being realistic is key to keeping your resolutions. Don’t try to change everything all at once. Instead, pick one or two areas where you can realistically improve without losing focus or compromising your performance on other tasks.
  • Do keep an eye on industry trends and developments. This is an exciting time of innovation and digital transformation. Almost every industry and occupation is going to be impacted to some extent by new technologies. If you want to remain relevant and employed, you’ve got to ride the wave. Fortunately, you don’t have to watch every report or read every article on the Internet. You can stay up to date on developments by creating Google alerts for keywords that are relevant to your industry; subscribing to thought leaders’ social media accounts and blogs; and spending 30 minutes to an hour each day taking all that information in.
  • Don’t forget to learn a new skill. Knowledge isn’t the only thing you need to remain employable: you also have to be adaptable in regard to learning new technical and soft skills. Pick one skill to learn—for example, learn a programming language that’s used for apps or find out how to create visual presentations of big data.
  • Do continue to build your network. Networking is critical to hearing about new developments and opportunities. Make a point of regularly touching base with people in your network; participating in online discussions (for example in LinkedIn Groups); and striking up conversations with new contacts. And remember to attend in-person networking events, too, since it can strengthen existing relationships and provide you with the opportunity to meet new people.
  • Don’t forget lessons learned. Look back on the past year and figure out exactly what you learned in regard to your profession. Maybe you acquired a new skill; perhaps you figured out that you’re extremely good at something; or maybe something happened to lend you a new perspective. Whatever it is, spend some time considering how what you learned can help you improve your performance.

Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your New Year’s resolutions and as a result, enhancing your career.