Whilst I’m not a huge fan of setting ‘New Year’s resolutions’, I do think that making some goals or commitments at the beginning of the year specifically related to your career can really make a huge difference to your mindset when returning after a break over the festive period.
Successful people always have goals and a plan of how they will achieve those goals, this is a fact. If you want to be successful, in my opinion the simplest thing to do to start is to copy the habits of those people who are successful. So get setting those goals!
I’ve compiled a list of career resolutions that can help to keep you focused, driven and that should ultimately result in more success in your career – if you stick to them!
1. Make a commitment to learning
Identify skills you would like to learn or identify skills that you need to develop or hone. Decide if the best place to acquire these is by going down a formal educational route, like going back to college or university or perhaps to get an MBA.
Don’t be a know it all. You don’t need to know what everyone is talking about to be considered smart or good at your job. I totally respect colleagues who out rightly say they don’t know what something something is or ask how to do something. It allows you to get the right level of information and ensure everyone is on the same page. Ask questions when appropriate and for further resources so that you can do your own reading if you need to skill up in your own time.
Have a brain like a sponge
Be a sponge, take in as much as possible – not just from text books but watching how senior colleagues interact, how they position themselves in meetings and respond to emails, how they handle difficult conversations, how they dress, take it all in. These are ‘soft skills’ that take time to refine if you’re just starting out and come with experience. They separate the more seasoned pros from the newbies in the work environment. Observe and you’ll in time learn how to emulate the successful people in your organisation and develop skills that will help you for the rest of your career.
Volunteering to get involved in projects, or work with other departments is an opportunity to highlight your value and commitment to your organisation. It also guarantees that you’ll learn from more experienced colleagues.
2. Work smarter, not harder
We’ve all seen the person in the office, who is usually in first and is last to leave – you may even have been that person – this may be perceived as working hard, but are you being efficient? Are you getting what you need to get done in the best way possible? Could you be freeing up more time to complete even better, more rewarding projects?
Working 9 til 5
You should be aiming to complete your work in the typical 9 – 5pm-ish day. If you do stay late ideally its to complete time-critical projects or to work on an additional piece of work that allows you to showcase your talents or to develop a new product, service or process. If you’re working late every day on the normal business-as-usual stuff, then some of your time should be spent to see if you can improve how things are done to speed things up. Speak to your manager about your concerns if you’re struggling to get things completed in a normal day and see what he or she suggests.
Cultivate a proper work:life balance and organise things you enjoy to do after work; hobbies, classes, dinner with friends – all of these should be designed to get you out of work on time. When I have something I’d like to do in the evening that requires me to leave the office on time, I am more efficient during the because I know I have to leave on time.
3. Cultivate your personal brand
In an internet age where there is a wealth of information about us online, be smart and try to make sure that the information people can see about you online puts your best foot forward. Or, lock everything down to retain your privacy on personal social networks and don’t add people from work if you think that’s best. Don’t post inflammatory things online or things that may come back to haunt you in the future. It’s just not a good idea.
How You Dress For Work Matters
The old adage of “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”, is definitely true but it doesn’t mean cloning your bosses dress-sense on a daily basis. It means cultivating your own style but mimicking the foundations your boss is likely to have in dressing for work which I have found to be quality over quantity.
Whilst I think most people would love a wardrobe full of on-trend pieces to choose from, but in business some people consider it can be distracting. There’s a reason why Steve Jobs and other highly successful people created a work ‘uniform’; to take away the choice each morning and to allow them to focus on other things. Unless you work in fashion, don’t worry too much about trends, instead focus on key, quality pieces that stand the test of time – you wear them a lot! You can mix in trends once you have the basics right.
Dress appropriately, your handbag, your accessories, your shoes, should all be tasteful. I don’t tend to mix my work wear and my off-duty wear. I have a clear distinction between the two because my style for each are very different.
But the Best you Can Afford
Buy the best quality you can afford and that doesn’t mean you should irresponsibly blow your wages on designer suits and bags, just buy the best you can and consider it an investment in your career.
Good shoes are one of the most important items you have in your collection of work wear items, they should be well-look after and clean, polished if appropriate and always tasteful. Don’t wear heels if you can’t walk properly in them all day and keep them in good repair.
How are you coming across?
When you cultivate your brand, this isn’t just about what you wear, it also concerns how you come across at work to your colleagues. Think about things that could impact how you are perceived by your colleagues and your boss and ensure that you’re always putting your best foot forward.
4. Learn how to network like a pro
Learn how to network properly and increase your confidence when talking to new people at events and in meetings. Never miss an opportunity to hand out your business cards if you meet someone you think you’d like to stay connected with.
Make use of LinkedIn, review your profile and update it if necessary. Make sure your head shot looks professional – LinkedIn isn’t Facebook and a selfie isn’t appropriate. I suggest against using personal photos on business social networking sites and instead get a friend or colleague to take a clear head shot of you on a smart phone or decent camera with a white backdrop if you don’t have a professional head shot you can use.
5. Figure out how best to motivate yourself
Are you a list crosser-offer (like me) or do you like to have stretch of the legs after you complete a task. Do you need a clear workspace to get things done or do you get lots done if you’re standing up?
Review your goals and figure out what best motivates you to achieve them and how your job fits into this. So if your goal is to buy a new car then being paid more for your work will be a motivating factor, then you need to work out how best to position yourself to get a salary increase, promotion or bonus for your work. But just because you’re doing more work doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get paid more, you need to make sure that the extra work your doing is aligned to your businesses goals so that they see the value you’re adding.
When the opportunity to demonstrate your achievements comes along, discuss what you’ve been working on and reference any others in your business who have assisted you. Accept praise graciously with a simple “thank you”. Receiving praise is motivating for anyone, it’s a way to know that our hard work is recognised and encourages us to keep going. When you commit to a goal you’ll slowly see progress.
Do you have any other to add? Do you make resolutions at New Year?