January. The month when we make plans for the year, pledge to give up at least one bad habit or kickstart a brand-new approach to healthy eating.
But more often than not, before the month is over, these good intentions have fallen by the wayside.
Digs about visiting the gym regularly, decluttering the house and doing a ‘dryathlon’ aside, it is actually a great time to think how you can give your career a boost – and stick to it!
Like a healthy body, creating a healthy career is a matter of persistence, consistency and understanding what ingredients you need.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done to take the necessary steps to bring you closer to your career goals. But it really is worth it in the end.
Here are my top six ways to making your aspirations more achievable:
1 Make a plan – and keep reviewing it!
This is the first thing you should do. If you haven’t done it already, set your annual goals now. Having a plan is key to reaching targets – both professional and personal.
Once you have decided what you want to achieve in 2016, break it down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. Feeling as though you have something to aim for will give you a natural boost and you’ll probably attack every task with all guns blazing. The trick is to maintain this focus and energy for the whole year – and very few of us manage it.
So don’t set goals only at the beginning of the year. Review your career path on a monthly or quarterly basis. You can tie this in with personal development reviews that your company does, or do it yourself if you’re self employed.
2 Look backwards – and then forwards
Look to the past to see what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Evaluate the approach you took to projects and communications and be objective. Make changes where necessary, but take the opportunity to try something that takes you slightly out of your comfort zone.
It will keep you on your toes and you might discover something that suits your working style – or equally as important, that doesn’t.
3 Don’t just plan – act
If you have taken the time to set intentions, it is important to turn these into commitments. Being engaged in what you do on a daily basis has been linked to higher rates of overall life satisfaction as well as better mental and physical health. Simply speaking, it’s better for you and everyone around you if you are actively engaged in your work on a daily basis.
Engagement is about more than being ‘satisfied’ at work. It’s about doing what you love and what aligns with your goals. Get involved in projects that enthuse you and make you want to do whatever you can to better the organisation you work for.
Creating strong employee engagement isn’t necessarily an organisational responsibility. Make it your individual responsibility to seek and create your own.
4 Know your strengths
There are few things more fulfilling in your career than knowing you are doing something brilliantly well. The correlation between loving what we do and playing to our strengths is massive. Studies have shown that employees who have the opportunity to use their strengths every day are more engaged than those who do not.
Work out what your natural talents are (ask your colleagues where they think your strengths lie if you’re unsure – or just curious to see what they say) and put them to use.
5 Seek inspiration
We all need a dream. Find people who have followed their dreams and made them reality, and glean inspiration from them. Without dreams, our life becomes stagnant and our career suffers. Know what you want out of life and go for it.
6 Don’t neglect the fun
Take a holistic approach to the year ahead – yes, you should have a clear-cut plan of action for your career, but you also need to think about what you want to achieve outside work. It could be learning a new skill, joining a club, starting to walk or run to work (or part of the way!) a couple of times a week. Think about places you want to visit and have an idea of when you will take time off for holidays or recharging your batteries.
Having things to look forward to will brighten your day and give you a greater sense of purpose.