Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the New Year’s Resolutions, I do think that making some career resolutions or commitments at the beginning of the year specifically related to your work can really make a difference to your mind set when going back after a break over the festive period.
I’ve compiled a list of career resolutions for a focused, driven and successful year – happy New Year to you all and wishing you all the success for your careers in 2017.
1. Make a commitment to learning
Identify areas you would either like to learn more about or identify areas in your role where you need to skill up and set about identify how you can acquire these skills. There are so many resources online that you can tap into, some of my favourites for online course are Future Learn, Udemy and Lynda.
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 must prefer colleagues who out rightly say they don’t know something. It allows you to give the right level of information and ensure everyone is on the same page. Ask questions when appropriate and ask for further resources so that you can do your own reading if you need to skill up in your own time.
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 emails, how they handle difficult conversations, how they dress, take it all in. These are ‘soft skills’ and take years to refine. They separate the more seasoned pros from the newbies. 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 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 projects?
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 development 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 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. Don’t post inflammatory things online or things that may come back to haunt you in the future. It’s not a good idea.
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 come people believe it can be distracting. There’s a reason Steve Jobs and other highly successful people created a work ‘uniform’ of sorts; to take away the choice to allow them to focus on other things. Unless you work in fashion, don’t focus on trends, instead focus on key, quality pieces that stand the test of time – you wear them a lot!
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.
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.
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 business social media profile, 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 lets us know 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?