It’s the dawn of a new year, and legions of us will be looking ahead with excitement as we embark on our annual process of making new year’s resolutions.
In my view, making new year’s resolutions is a healthy process – most of us can get so caught up in the day-to-day activity of our jobs and our lives, that we don’t often take the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on our careers as a whole.
To continue to advance in your career (and guard against becoming stagnant), I recommend that everyone have professional development goals. And, the new year is a great time to reflect back on the previous year in terms of your highs and lows, triumphs and challenges, lessons learned and skills gained. Objectively taking stock of what happened in the past provides helpful information to take into account when setting targeted goals to propel you forward in your work life.
What career goals should you consider when making a new year’s resolution?
The best goals are specific to you as an individual. In other words, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all goal that applies to everyone. For example, one person might need to tighten up with respect to time management, another might need to work on building relationships, while another needs to work on gaining a specific technical skill.
So, to pick the career resolution that is right for you, I recommend reflecting on your performance in a variety of areas to identify some potential goals.
Areas to focus on could include:
- Interpersonal skills (i.e. relationships, emotional intelligence, networking, influencing, listening)
- Leadership skills (e.g. motivating, delegating, coaching, courage)
- Execution (e.g. planning, organizing, time management, prioritization),
- Emotional factors (e.g.resilience, stress management, confidence, ability to deal with failure)
- Specific technical skills related to your job.
If you are unsure about what areas could use some work, I recommend asking others for honest feedback about what you do well, and where you could stand to improve.
Don’t forget your strengths!
In addition to focusing on areas in which you need to improve, another helpful career resolution is to come up with ways to be very intentional about leveraging your strengths. Perhaps you have a particular skill or quality that you don’t get to showcase much in the workplace. Finding ways to take advantage of your strengths can not only provide you with more enjoyment at work, it can also benefit your career when you get noticed for your abilities
What are some goals for people who want to move up the corporate ladder?
If you are already kicking butt and taking names in your current role, you also might think about where you want to go in your career. What is the next job you aspire to? Make a list of the competencies you would need in that next job, and do an honest self-assessment to determine which ones you currently lack, or could stand to develop. Based on that analysis, you can determine an appropriate career resolution to work on this year.
Also, as you move up in an organization, emotional intelligence becomes increasingly important. At a certain level, most people probably have the skills to do the work, but the ones who stand out are the ones who can influence, engage, coach, and relate to people effectively. So, working on your EQ can give you a leg up relative to the competition. By developing deep insights into yourself and others, and learning to use those insights to interact effectively, you will be well on your way in your career.
Finally, there is some truth to the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In the business world (and elsewhere), a lot of work gets done through relationships. So, you should always work on building new relationships and cultivating the ones you currently have. Have lunch with a colleague, walk around the office and connect with others. Humans are social beings, and we yearn for interpersonal connection. As you are connecting with others, make sure you are coming from a giving mindset that is not all about you and your desire to get ahead. Connecting on a genuine level will make others feel good about you, and create deep relationships that will serve you well in your career.
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These valuable tips are all based on research, and my 10+ years of experience working with successful senior executives.