Four Career Resolutions You Can Stick To

We all do it — make resolutions at the outset of a brand new year that often fall by the wayside before the end of January (why do you think the New Year is a peak time for gym membership sales but 60% of them go unused?). So how do you strike a balance between setting reachable and unrealistic goals for yourself? How can you approach the “New Year, New You” mentality for your career and actually stick to your plan?  Here are four ideas:

1. Think about what you’ve learned. At the beginning of every year, we each gather our teams together for a “What I’ve Learned” meeting, where everyone shares their top lessons from the past year. This is a great exercise for anyone to do because it enables you to step back and review how the last 12 months went at work and what enlightened you along the way. By discussing it in a group, you also get the added benefit of other people’s lessons. These key learnings — drawn both from mistakes you made and things you did well — will help you plan ahead for the coming year, avoid making the same mistakes again and find ways to put your helpful knowledge to use.

2. Give yourself a few attainable goals and one stretch goal. Even better than creating a laundry list of big goals (e.g. lose 50 lbs., start the next Facebook), many of which you may not reach, break them down into bite-size lists of two or three realistic goals per quarter (i.e. work out 2x/week and cut 100 calories a day, organize your office, spend an hour a day on strategy). Then, just to push yourself, add one that’s a bit harder to reach, what we like to call a “stretch” goal. It should be something that you strive to accomplish but will challenge you and get you outside your comfort zone. For example, maybe there’s an industry award that you’d like to win for your work that’s tough to get. How can you go about getting nominated or creating something good enough to be recognized in 2011?

3. Vow to cultivate new relationships. The holiday parties are over and now we’re all back to the grind. But the New Year is a great opportunity to meet new people and widen your circle. Whether in-person or online, nowadays it’s easy to connect with others who can help you further your career. If you haven’t joined LinkedIn or Facebook yet, do. Get involved in a professional organization that has interesting events related to your particular industry. Volunteer to become a mentor at your company (or ask someone to be yours!). Every relationship you form can lead to another and another and another. The bigger your network, the better your net worth.

4. Pick one thing you want to get really good at. Like many people, we want to be fluent in a second language, be able to blow out our hair every morning like we just left the salon, cook like Mario Batali and travel the world. Problem is, it’s highly unlikely that any of us will attain all of these goals in a single year. So our advice is to select one thing to focus on and then spend the next 12 months becoming an expert at that. In the workplace, that might mean mastering the art of public speaking, learning HTML, or studying that second language that can help you broaden your business prospects (Chinese seems to be the language du jour – or “天的语言” in Mandarin).

Bottom line: Overloading yourself with a list of goals all at once can be frustrating and discouraging and, consequently, you could end up not reaching any. However, tackle them a little at a time, and by the end of the year, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much you got done. Whatever you resolve to accomplish in 2011, we wish you much luck and success!

How do you go about making New Year’s resolutions? Share with us here, on Twitter (@bestpublicist) or Facebook.

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