Many resolve to improve themselves in some capacity in the new year: lose weight, get in shape, get a promotion, make more money, spend more time with family and friends, work less, etc. But career achieving goals is a complex business–they take time, thought and strategy. Small, simple changes lay the foundation for major changes and transitions. Progress is incremental, so start small and build on what you achieve as you improve yourself and your quality of work over the course of the year. Here are a few ways to advance your career goals in 2019:
Stop Being Late
The first sign of an organized, serious professional is punctuality. Good, reliable professionals are not late for anything, and nothing signals to others that someone is disorganized and unprofessional than consistently being late. Force yourself to manage your time, to schedule enough time to get ready, get organized and arrive early.
This is Professionalism 101, but it’s always surprising how many people do not follow this advice: stay organized. Be on top of things, be on time, have things filed, be prepared for meetings, etc. Being organized allows you to be efficient, productive and focused. If you constantly have big piles of unorganized papers in disarray on your desk, never have things in the right file, do not update your calendar and do not manage your time, you will have to devote time and energy to find whatever you need whenever you need it and you are working from behind. Invest time in getting organized, it will save you loads of time in the long term. Develop a system that is simple and stick to it.
Meet New People
In the era of “Netflix and chill,” it’s easy to go through the motions at work, participate in water cooler conversation, fulfill work-related social obligations then go home and relax. Or simply just spend time with your own friends. It is objectively easier than going out and meeting new people. But meeting new people in your industry is what keeps you sharp, up-to-date and connected. In terms of job placement, who you know is a valuable currency, so make it part of your job to know as many people as possible. Go to industry events, have your friends in the industry introduce you to their friends, support others in their professional endeavors. It’s as simple as making friends in your own industry, it doesn’t have to be contrived or transactional like an awkward networking event. Get out and go meet new people; it is the lifeblood of your career.
Ask For Feedback
When you have completed a project or major assignment, try to get 15 minutes of a superior’s time for feedback. There is a delicate balance to be struck: you shouldn’t ask for feedback often, but ask for it enough so if an issue arises, it can be addressed before an evaluation. You will be respected for confronting your weaknesses and improving them instead of waiting for colleagues to mention them in a performance review.
Useful Skills And Hobbies
If you have been nervous to learn the tricks and short cuts to Microsoft Word and Excel, or to familiarize yourself with new software, etc. now is the time to summon your courage and patience and do the right thing. One way to help distinguish yourself is to keep up with the latest skills and technology of your field. Industries evolve quickly, and if new developments and skills are ignored because it is easier to stay the same, people, companies, and whole industries will get left behind. Make sure you are collecting and building on useful skills and hobbies, and make it a habit to stay up-to-date so you do not get left behind.
Take it upon yourself to stay up to speed on news in your industry. Subscribe to your industry trade publications, follow reporters who cover your industry on social media, read books about the industry at large and by experts in the field. Do not become stale. Stay curious and improve yourself. Knowing more about your business is always better, so devour anything you can about your industry, understand how world events impact it so you can understand its current state and know what the future holds. Read more, period.
One way to give back and to meet more people in your industry is to volunteer under the umbrella of your profession. For example if you work in technology, there are a number of charities that teach certain skills such as coding to children and those in need. If you work in education, there are plenty of education outreach charities and programs you can volunteer with. If there isn’t an obvious choice for your profession, you can volunteer to be a mentor at organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or Step Up Women’s Network. It is a meaningful way to give back, build confidence and expand your network.
Don’t Hold Grudges
If you take things personally, it breeds political games and resentment in the workplace that is emotionally draining and unproductive. Try not to take things personally, hold grudges, or get involved in disagreements that aren’t purely professional, and can be argued in technical terms. As soon as it becomes a more personal, subjective argument, you lose your footing in the argument and you’re the one who has been unprofessional. Don’t hold grudges, assume whatever that person did is in the best interest of your employer, and focus on doing outstanding work. Holding grudges doesn’t serve you, so let it go.
Know The Best Way To Reduce Stress
When you get upset or stressed about work, experiment with what calms you in the moment. Whether you stretch, meditate, breathe, go for a walk, go to the gym and get some exercise, or read some poetry or scripture. Find a way to reduce stress in the moment so you can make clear headed decisions, something that helps change your frame of mind about a situation or helps you feel calm and less overwhelmed.When you reduce stress, you are able to compartmentalize any emotion you may have about a decision, so knowing the way to calm yourself down in the moment is a way to manage yourself, and ensure you’re in the right state of mind to handle conflict or important decisions.
Monitor Your Progress
One way to stay on track of your goals, whether it is to meet more people in your industry or to be on time or to learn a new skill is to track your progress. Set small, incremental goals that can be achieved in a month or in a quarter. Your confidence will build as you see your progress on paper, and it will motivate you to keep up your good work.