- Restless – wondering what’s next and ready to change jobs
- Happy enough – drifting along, content to hang around and see what happens
- Blessed – can’t believe how lucky I am to do something I love AND be well paid for it!
Regardless of where you are right now, the cost and risk of doing nothing for your career this year are high.
- Restless – Doing nothing will increase dissatisfaction, stress and anxiety whilst eating away at your self-confidence and professional credibility
- Happy enough – Complacency could become your biggest enemy. Those with more drive and ambition will win those roles you’d have relished, if only you’d bothered
- Blessed – Nothing stays the same for long! Although you’ve worked hard to get where you are, circumstances rapidly change. Failing to future-proof your career will soon see you being left behind.
Whichever camp you fall into, taking these simple steps will unlock surprising, new opportunities for you this year.
1. CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS
- What matters most to you?
- Is it meaningful work, strengthening relationships, the challenge of mastering new skills, making a difference, recognition, convenience, balance or something else…?
Whatever it is for you, decide to make this the priority.
Choose a theme for this year and shift your focus to doing just that.
2. SET YOUR DIRECTION
Consciously setting the direction you want your career to take puts you firmly in control.
- Where will you be this time next year?
- What will be different and better than where you are now?
3. DECIDE WHAT YOU DON’T WANT ANY MORE
There are certain things we all tolerate way longer than is good for us. Like barnacles on a boat, professional barnacles slow us down and hold us back. These include tasks, relationships and our own limiting beliefs.
Choose to let go of that which is unhelpful that could hinder your progress.
- What are you tolerating?
- How will you let go of your professional barnacles?
4. IDENTIFY WHAT YOU WANT INSTEAD
Choosing what you want and need more of will clarify what you must do more of this year.
- What challenges and satisfies you most?
- What is it that if you were just doing more of it, your job wouldn’t feel like ‘work’?
5. STOCKTAKE ACHIEVEMENTS, STRENGTHS & PASSIONS
It’s tempting to charge headlong into the year ahead without taking stock. But ignoring what you already have will make this year way harder than it needs to be!
What you’ve already achieved, are good at, love doing and care deeply about provide vital clues about where you could go and should do next.
- What have been your greatest achievements so far?
- What motivated you and how did you achieve success?
6. DEVELOP YOUR SINGLE, BEST, UNIQUE TALENT
Most Professional Development Plans focus on addressing a gap or weakness. Although important, investing time and effort in building on your strengths will reap greater rewards.
- What is the one thing you do effortlessly that others value most about you?
- If you could take your strongest unique talent to a whole new level, what would be possible?
- How will you nurture and grow your greatest strength?
7. SELECT CLEAR, ACHIEVABLE GOALS
A destination without a map to guide you is somewhere you’re unlikely to arrive at. To stay on track, ensure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-framed)
- Working backwards from this time next year, what are the 3 most important goals you need to achieve to get you where you want to go?
- What will achieving these goals result in for you and others?
8. CREATE A SIMPLE PLAN – and make it fun
Planning can feel like a boring necessity but without a plan you’ll soon lose focus. The year will drift by and your career goals will be swamped by busy work and excuses.
The secret to planning is to keep it simple and make it fun!
- What will you achieve by when?
- What steps will you take and how will you reward yourself along the way?
9. STRENGTHEN YOUR BRAND
You already have a personal and professional reputation. Consciously developing the reputation you want and need is the key to landing your dream job and doing work you love.
- What do you want to be known ‘as’ and ‘for’?
- How are you perceived now?
- What steps will you take to bridge the gap between your current and desired reputation?
10. DELIVER POSITIVE TANGIBLE RESULTS
Nothing creates new opportunities faster than delivering work that makes a real and valuable difference.
Make a priority to complete that project, build the team, delight your stakeholders or get that strategy approved.
- What outcomes and results will you achieve this year?
- Who will they help and what difference will they make?
11. NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
This is the year to overcome your reluctance to network! Rather, see networking as relationship building – a career necessity.
Invest most in relationships where the benefit is mutual.
- Who can you best help and what do you have to offer them?
- What do you need and who could best help you?
12. ENGAGE A MENTOR
Career success is rarely achieved alone and the most successful people have a range of mentors to guide them.
Great mentors expand perspective, generate ideas, create connections and are wonderful sounding boards.
- Who do you know who could help you take the next step in your career?
- What kind of mentoring relationship will work best for you and them?
13. UPDATE YOUR RESUME & LINKEDIN PROFILE
Having got this far, you’ve now got plenty of fresh material to strengthen your resume and LinkedIn profile. Make a note in your diary to update both once a quarter to keep them current.
This will ensure you are always ‘opportunity ready’ and attracting the best opportunities for you.
- What changes will you make to create a current, compelling resume and LinkedIn profile?
14. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Self-doubt is possibly the biggest saboteur of professional success! Taking all or even just a few of the above steps will amount to nothing unless you believe in you.
Consciously embrace the value you bring and the unique difference you make every day.
If this is something you struggle with, engage a professional career coach to help you ‘get out of your own way’, once and for all!
Wherever you take your career this year, may it be challenging, fun and fulfilling in the best possible way.
Caroline helps mid-career professionals and evolving organisations harness the power of change to achieve success in business, work and life.