If your resolutions every year look depressingly familiar - perhaps because they always abandoned by February 1st, then maybe this is the year to make resolutions specifically aimed at boosting your career prospects. Finding easy and sustainable ways to improve your career prospects can be a great way to get your year off to a good start - and some positive momentum early in the year can make your career really fly over the whole twelve months.
Here I round up some of the most effective resolutions you could choose to boost your career trajectory.
#1 Write a career plan
You know what they say about failing to plan. Despite the fact that you may be meticulously organised in every other area of life, if you don’t have a career plan then you will find it difficult to achieve your aims. Writing one can be daunting, especially if you’re at the start of your career and have many years and many different options to consider. You might find it easier to break down your plan into five year chunks, considering life and work milestones together to give a holistic picture. If you’re looking to buy a house, or start a family, live abroad or take a gap year, make sure it’s included in your career plan too.
If you’re just starting to make your plan, don’t panic, there are plenty of ideas, tools and apps available online to help. I round up some of the best of them here.
Although most people know that a great network is crucial to career success, there are precious few people who would say they’re good at networking. It simply isn’t something many of us are confident in doing - so all the more reason to make this a resolution for 2015.
Start easy - just drop a note to 5 people you have worked with in the past who are on the periphery of your network. The purpose is to say happy new year, but it is also a bit of gentle networking that will build and improve that relationship inch by inch. Set yourself further networking goals to achieve throughout the year - reaching out to people on LinkedIn, finding a mentor or attending an industry networking event (and not just hanging around with your colleagues by the buffet).
#3 Choose a new skill to learn or experience to seek out (not necessarily at work)
It may not seem an intuitive way to improve your career chances, but learning something new, even if it is completely unconnected to your job, can be a great way to support your career development. Learn a language, or choose an academic subject, learn a new skill or take up a new sport. The benefits in and out of work will surprise you, improving your morale and motivation as you succeed in a new endeavour, helping you broaden your social horizons and keeping you mentally stimulated - all of which help you to focus on the job during working hours.
#4 Boost your productivity
A final sure fire way to improve your life in work and at home is to get a productivity boost. This will make you more effective at work, leaving you with more time to play out of hours - giving the balance that makes working most rewarding. How you boost your productivity will depend very much on your current situation. A simple way can be to invest time in writing lists - either pen and paper style, or on your phone - keeping track of your aims for the day is the simplest way of getting through them effectively.
If this is too basic, though, look at some of the productivity tools available online, in the form of apps and websites. I round up some of the best here, which can help you focus on the task in hand, and even reward you when you do!
Whatever resolutions are right for you, give yourself the best chance at sticking to them for more than a few weeks. Share them with others, write down specific targets and milestones, and think about writing them in a SMART style. That way, with what feels like only a little effort, you can totally transform your career for 2015.