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New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for losing weight, quitting smoking or taking up the cello — they can be a great motivator to reach career goals as well.
Randall Craig, a professional career adviser and author, says the key to successfully following through on your career resolutions is to set attainable goals, get started right away and stick with your game plan.
The most common pitfall Craig says people fall prey to when making career resolutions is setting goals that are unreasonable. Telling yourself that this year you’ll double your salary or score a monster promotion you’re unqualified for can only discourage you from the get-go. Instead, aim for things you know you can achieve and will bring you satisfaction.
“Choose one thing about your job you want to change or improve and go for it. You don’t need to eat the whole watermelon in one bite,” Craig said.
Write down specific things you want to change and rank them in order of importance, then start at the top. Small, manageable resolutions can include things like taking a course to get certified in a new career-related skill, or taking the lead on an upcoming project. Whatever you do, Craig says it’s important to get started on your resolution right away, because his experience shows people drop their resolutions quickly if they don’t set out on them fast enough. “If you’ve got great ideas, translate them into action. If you don’t put them into action in the first 24 hours, you’ve lost the momentum,” Craig said.
Once you’ve gotten started, stick to your guns and work hard. Don’t let small setbacks stop you. “Don’t give up just because one part fails — trust in yourself and commit to what you’re doing,” Craig said.
If you’re stuck for career resolution ideas, Craig recommends taking a look at renewing a crucial but oft-neglected part of your career — your network of professional contacts.
“Ask yourself what you have done for your mentors, or the people who’ve helped you? Sending over some news clippings or information for new contacts can make people think, ‘This person is thinking about me, maybe I should think about them.’ Networks are like a bank — you have to make a deposit before you can make a withdrawal,” Craig said.
Ultimately, the “best” career resolutions are the ones you actually get cracking on.
“If you’ve got a goal, put it into your BlackBerry and just do it.”