The start of a new year provides us with the perfect opportunity to set new goals and aspirations. Professionally speaking, setting career resolutions (and sticking to them) can increase focus, improve time management and boost productivity. Yet, despite our best intentions (and all of the notable benefits), it’s not uncommon for these resolutions to fall flat. Why? Because, more often than not, we’re trying to change too much, too fast. (Think about it, three weeks ago, we were still in a haze of turkey and tinsel!) So what is the solution? Throughout this article, we will discuss the five career resolutions we think everyone should make at the start of a new year. We will then explore ‘how’ to stick to these resolutions and even provide you with additional bonus tips to support your career planning and ensure your success in the coming year.
Our 5 favourite new years resolutions in business
1. Follow your passion and play to your strengths
If money were no object, would you still do what you do? It can be hard to imagine knowing you have bills to pay. But do you enjoy your work? Do you look forward to coming to work most days? Are you proud of what you do? If not, why not? We spend most of our waking hours at work. So surely, you owe it to yourself to spend these hours doing something that you enjoy? Something you are passionate about and makes you happy? Whilst my income is nowhere near what I used to earn, I’m 100% fulfilled by what I do. I love being my own boss and working with such a great group of clients. When you play to your strengths, everything becomes so much easier. Seriously. Otherwise, you end up wasting a lot of effort on something you are not passionate about. Just think how much success you could have if you leaned into your strengths. If you are going to move your career forward this year, you need to make sure that you are both passionate about what you do AND that you are playing to your strengths. If you can, ditch or delegate the stuff which isn’t suited to you.
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2. Benchmark your own career progress on your own goals and performance
Far too often, I hear professionals (particularly young, ambitious lawyers, accountants and consultants) benchmarking their performance and career progress on others. You can’t control what others do, so it is not healthy to constantly compare yourself to others. When you start comparing yourself to others, this can lead to non-productive behaviour and self-limiting beliefs. The only comparison you need to make is whether you are progressing against the goals and career plan you have set yourself.
3. Invest in your own career and development
People who take charge of their careers and achieve their career goals understand it is their responsibility to invest in their development. Interestingly, the small business community shares the same mindset – subscribing to the belief that they should be the ones to pay and invest in their own skillset. And yet, so many professionals in practice assume that it is their firm’s responsibility to pay for their development? Like numerous others, I spent many of my corporate days waiting on my employers to facilitate my technical professional development. They were never forthcoming, which made me feel undervalued and unwanted. If I had known then, what I know now, I would have pursued and financed my professional development independently. Don’t make the same mistake – it’s your career. Take control of your career planning and development. Start by asking yourself what steps you can take to help you become successful and fulfilled at work?
4. Look after yourself
It doesn’t matter how good you are at work or how much you want to achieve – if you don’t have your health, it is not worth one jot. So, before you fling yourself into pursuing your career resolutions, take some time to figure out how you’re going to look after yourself this year. Could you start taking a 10-minute walk on your lunch break? Or drink one less glass of chardonnay at the weekend? It is amazing how these seemingly small acts of self-care can significantly improve our physical and mental well-being.
5. Nurture your network
I implore you, make this the year you nurture your network. Your network is an asset that no one can strip away from you – no employer can claim it. Not only can your network help you to achieve your career resolutions, but it can also boost your corporate status, ensuring that you are the best source of new client referrals! So start looking through your contacts. Who can you spend time with next week to help strengthen your relationships and support your success? And how can you help one another achieve your new year resolutions in business? Read: The FT Guide To Business Networking
How to actually keep your career resolutions
Now that you have a list of clear and attainable career resolutions, it’s time we revealed how to best stick to them. Here are our top five tips to help you stick to your new year resolutions in business:
1. Follow up your good intentions with action
We all have good intentions when starting the new year. The problem is, good intentions just aren’t enough. To achieve your new year resolutions in business, you have to take action. Start by scheduling in time to work solely towards your goals. If this isn’t incentive enough, acknowledge that you need additional support. Perhaps invest in some new software or online coaching? Remember, each actionable step brings you one step closer to achieving your goals.
Note to Progress to Partner members: Completing the on-demand course “How to truly commit to moving your career forward” is a great foundation to use to progress your career.
2. Break your goals down into smaller steps
Setting new resolutions can feel daunting – especially if you want to make some big changes this year. So how should you approach your larger goals? We recommend breaking them down into smaller, manageable milestones. This way, you can focus on achieving one small milestone at a time and avoid becoming overwhelmed! For example, let’s assume you want to work fewer hours. Your first milestone could be to consistently leave by 18:00 on a Friday so you can spend the evening with your family. The next milestone could be to choose a second night in the week to leave on time so that you can play a sport or go to the gym. If you need some extra support with your career planning, why not follow the S.M.A.R.T criteria? Once you begin breaking down your goals into small actionable steps, the sky really is the limit!
3. Make your resolutions specific
Many of us make our new year’s resolutions too vague. You know – eat healthier, exercise more, work fewer hours, get promoted. It’s all a bit woolly. To truly succeed and follow through with your commitment, you need to make your resolutions specific, measurable and actionable. For example, if you want to expand your network. How many contacts would you like to make? Is it five new contacts at every event? The more specific your career resolutions, the more likely you will achieve them.
4. Share your resolutions and accept the support
All too often, when we keep a goal to ourselves, we let it slip by the wayside – after all, no one will know. But, if you really want to achieve your new year resolutions in business, it’s time to start sharing. By sharing your career plans and aspirations with your family and friends, not only can they keep you accountable, but they can also support you throughout the process.
5. Understand why you are making this change
If you don’t have a strong emotional connection to your new resolution, the chances are it will never happen. Why? Because without that driving force, you won’t have the motivation to overcome inertia and change your habits. So ask yourself, why are you making this change? Do you want to work fewer hours? Or does your partner want you to work fewer hours? Similarly, do you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle? Or is this something that you feel you ought to do? Before committing to a new year resolution, you must understand why you want to achieve your goal.
When it comes to career planning and keeping career resolutions, it’s important to adopt the following tips if you wish to be successful in the long term. Remember, goals and resolutions change, but positive working practices can last a lifetime.
Take care of yourself
We have already discussed the importance of self-care and its significant contribution to our overall success. Now, it’s time to get specific about how to support our bodies and, in turn, perform at our best: – Sleep: sleep allows our bodies to repair and replenish. It is essential for our physical and mental health. Prioritise getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. – Exercise: exercise is good for the body, mind, and soul. It also releases endorphins to help clear the mind and boost your mood. So ask yourself, how often do you exercise? Do you get outside at least once a day? – Diet: food fuels our bodies and our brains. Junk food and sugar can make us feel sluggish and tired. Instead, opt for more nutritious foods to help you perform to the best of your abilities.
Free up your headspace
You must allow yourself space and time to think about what you want from your career and where you want to go. If you don’t have the headspace to figure out what you want, you will struggle to set any goals (let alone achieve them). You need to schedule regular time to unwind and allow your subconscious brain to carry some of the load. Don’t underestimate the value of your headspace – some of our most profound eureka moments happen when we’re relaxed.
Remind yourself of your vision and values
Your values and your vision are what give you purpose. Even subconsciously, they drive your decisions and motivate your actions. Therefore, you must get clear about your values and vision for the future. Ask yourself, where do I want to be in five years? The future you desire might look vastly different. Alternatively, it could look incredibly similar. Whatever your long-term goals, any resolution is possible with meticulous career planning and consistent effort. You just need to know where you’re heading.
Find a mentor
One of the most effective ways to progress your career is to find yourself a mentor. With years of experience on their side, they can offer support and advice to help you achieve your goals. Be sure to find a mentor who aligns with your values along with your career niche. Skillset is important, but you also want to enjoy working together. Be sure to utilise their knowledge and ask them any questions you may have. Together you can find the most effective way to achieve your career resolutions.
Career planning can cultivate success
When it comes to your career, you must remember that you are in the driving seat. It is easy to become overwhelmed, but it is your responsibility to take action. So, if you want to achieve career success in the new year, remember these pieces of advice: – Play to your strengths – Don’t compare yourself to others – Make your goals specific, measurable and actionable – Every major milestone is the culmination of lots of little milestones – Accept (and ask for) support – Prioritise your mental and physical wellbeing – Set goals that are meaningful to you Career planning can seem daunting (much like committing to a career resolution). But will small continued efforts, you can utilise the new year to strategise and pursue your goals in the New Year.
Don’t forget to download our free career action plan! This is everything you need to finally take your career in the direction that you want and to achieve what you set out to.
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