5 Career Boosting Steps for the New Year
We’re a month into the new year, which is the opportune time to revisit those new year’s resolutions and intentions you set just a few weeks ago. Rather than add more soon-to-be ignored resolutions to your plate, let’s talk proactive action steps you can take this year to boost your career instead.
1. Reflect on the previous year.
While I’m not suggesting you dwell on the past, I am encouraging you to take a thoughtful approach in reflecting upon your accomplishments, challenges, and lessons. In order to do so, you’ll need to become a journalist. As one of my favorite authors, Greg McKeown writes, “Being a journalist of your own life will force you to stop hyper-focusing on all the minor details and see the bigger picture.”
- Make a list of projects, accomplishments, and challenges.
- Step back and look. What matters? What are the trends?
- What did you learn about yourself as it relates to your career? Think about work environment, work activities, values, etc.)
In seeing the bigger picture, you start to see what matters. You’ll understand where to focus and prioritize, what to change, what to continue.
2. Create a learning plan.
As author Dorie Clark explains, the key question to ask yourself here is: “How can I ensure that I’m more valuable at the end of the year than I was at the beginning?”
This is a big question, so Clark suggests identifying your gaps first. Perhaps you are going to be working with new clientele this year, or on a project in a different country. You may need to learn more about these new clients, or the business culture in the country where your project is now based. Or perhaps you have recently made a career transition to a new industry and need to gain insight on industry best practices or jargon. Think beyond skills here, identifying other knowledge or expertise that would help you perform better in your career.
- What are your gaps in knowledge or experience?
- What’s the best method to fill the gaps? (i.e. books, articles, podcasts, conferences, classes, mentorship, etc.)
3. Reconnect with your network.
It’s incredibly difficult to move forward in your career without a community to support you. Your network can serve as a huge resource, providing information and advice as you embark on new adventures. For example, if you are preparing to tackle a big project that someone else in a similar role elsewhere recently completed, they can share what they learned from the experience before you get started. Your network can serve as a tool to refer you for new positions or let you know about upcoming job openings. If you’re looking to make a move, reconnecting with your network for this purpose is one of the most important steps in your job search.
- How can you be of service to those in your network?
- What would you like to learn from others?
- Who else, outside of your organization, do you want to meet?
- How and when do you plan to reconnect? (i.e. email, phone call, conference, informational interview, etc.)
4. Upgrade your personal brand.
Like it or not, you have a personal brand: what you are known for as a professional. Now is the perfect time to revisit your personal brand and make some upgrades based on the things you completed in the previous year. For example, if you took a class or gained a new skill set, you’ll want to make sure your brand reflects these recent developments. This update is particularly important if you are hoping to transition into a new role or field. Your personal brand is reflected both in person and online through channels such as:
- Your elevator pitch
- Your LinkedIn profile
- Your resume and cover letters
- Your website or portfolio
- What do you want to be known for?
- What new certifications or projects have you completed?
- What new skills have you gained?
- What work can you showcase?
- Revisit your LinkedIn profile, elevator pitch, resume, and website. What needs to change?
5. Establish healthy work habits.
Whether you are planning to make a career change or not this upcoming year, it’s always important to consider your work habits. As many studies have shown over the years, employees who have healthy work habits tend to be happier, productive, creative, and engaged at work. And isn’t that what we all want, really?
Think about mind, body, and soul here, as wellness is not limited to simply exercise or nutrition. I found that it is helpful for me to take a walk during my lunch break so that I get outside and get moving. Others may wish to commit to things like taking meditation breaks, not checking email from home, or bonding more with coworkers. Healthy work habits will look different for all of us, so take some time to think about what would work well for you.
- As you add new items to your plate, what will you remove?
- What does a healthy workday look like for you?
- What forms of self-care would you like to adopt?
Use my free Career Boosting Workbook to write out your responses to these questions! Then check in with yourself again in another couple of weeks to hold yourself accountable to taking these action steps.