As the ball drops in Times Square to bid farewell to 2009 and usher in 2010, many people turn to the well-intentioned and time-honored tradition of making New Year’s resolutions which, as we all know, are usually broken before they even get off the ground.
So instead of silently vowing that 2010 is the year that you ditch that overbearing boss and go find a new job, you should instead make career resolutions that will actually stick.
The top five secrets you need to know about keeping your 2010 career resolutions will help you stay on track, be focused and get the results you want.
1. Think long-term. Don’t do a knee-jerk reaction of “I hate my boss- I’m going to take the first offer I get and get out of this place!” – this is just a short-term solution to an annoying problem. You are actually sabotaging your career in the long-term by making an un-meditated leap to the next thing that rolls along, regardless as to whether this new opportunity is actually going to help your overall direction. Take the time to think about what it is that you really want to do, and build a plan around it. If you aren’t sure what it is that you want to do in your next job, try hiring a professional career coach to explore the types of work that has meaning and/or is more interesting to you. Or, you can also explore your skill strengths and vocational interests with books like, “What Color is My Parachute” by Richard M. Bolles or take a Vocation Vacation where you ‘test-drive’ your dream job before committing time and resources to switching careers. The key point: Do your research before you jump ship. You’ll be glad you did!
2. Break your 2010 career management goals down into steps.
What do you want to accomplish this year? Do you want a new job? Do you want a new title? Do you hope to earn more money? Be specific in your career goals, and then sketch out the steps necessary to get there. By actually taking the time to write out what your goals are, you are starting the process of developing a road map. This will engineer a clear path and by having clear, actionable steps along the way, you are providing yourself with benchmarks towards achieving those objectives. Make sure to maintain an active component to your career progression by incorporating professional education/development opportunities into your plan, which will help hone your job knowledge, and join industry-related membership organizations to enhance your credentials. Volunteering also raises your profile as a leader who has the capacity to give back.
3. Keep track of your accomplishments.
How many times have you sat down to update your résumé and realized a little too much time has gone by since you last worked on it? Trying to remember what you actually did at each employer can be a daunting task if you have to dust off performance reviews and thumb through aging documents. Keeping your accomplishments up to date on your résumé reminds you of your value to your current or prospective employers. Another thing you can use this for is when you are feeling a little down in the dumps about your career, you can review your accomplishments. This is a sure-fire way to give yourself a much-needed boost – “I did this!” and that can be just the thing you need to get rolling again.
4. Plan to expand your contact base.
By creating a plan to build your network through active engagement in industry-specific events or general business gatherings, you never know who you are adding to your repertoire of professional contacts. While the results might not be immediately fruitful, keep in mind that building trust and becoming a known quantity takes time. If you cultivate your contacts carefully, you’ll open yourself up to more job opportunities by referral. Remember, most jobs are found through someone you know!
5. Keep a diary of your progress.
By documenting your job search and career management efforts, you’ll see a cumulative effect of your forward motion. Maintain a list of who you’ve met with, what jobs you’ve applied for, articles that you’ve read that pertain to your industry, and what additional educational opportunities you’ve been to… all of these add up to a career resolution that propels you towards your career goals, rather than treading water with no clear direction towards shore.
By taking these tips and putting them into motion, you’ll have a more fulfilling 2010.
Happy New Year!