Meet Yourself Half-Way: Why a Mid-Year Check-in Can Spell Success in All Areas of Your Life

August is here!  Aside from ungodly heat, spiked lemonade and the omnipresent Summer Olympics, what this time of year truly has in store is the opportunity to do a check-in with yourself.

In sports, the split is the intermediate times during a race that gives athletes an understanding of how they are performing, allowing them to adjust their pace accordingly.  In screenwriting, figuring out the midpoint is the key to determining where the story goes, what it means — and how to make it a success. And, in business, smart companies examine goals and performance at the half-way point to ensure that they will hit the marks set earlier in the year.

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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?

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DON’T PUT YOUR CAREER ON ICE THIS WINTER

The weather across the country had turned colder…and so has the job market. Recent stats took even the White House by surprise. According to the recently released numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent and the number of unemployed persons was 15.1 million in November. Scary. But, what can you do to keep warm during this extended and early freeze?

Hatch a plan.

In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” to which he responds, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”  When she says, “I don’t much care where,” the Cat points out, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”  Take a lesson from Lewis Carroll’s heroine: Think about what your goals are during this (seemingly) long cold employment period and start breaking down how you’d like to accomplish them. It could be as simple as hanging on to your job; it could be slightly more difficult (i.e. getting a raise). For the former, work on ways to be your own best publicist in the workplace (for example, by volunteering to work on additional projects). For the latter, start compiling evidence of the ways you add value or how you’ve saved–or made–the company money through the work you’ve done.

Help others to help yourself.
You know the saying “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”? Consider a different perspective: Do something nice for others and they will likely be more apt to do something nice for you. For example, if someone you know is a fledgling graphic designer, recommend them for a project.  At a minimum, they’ll remember you.  More importantly, perhaps you’ll come to mind when they come across an opportunity that would be good for you. Given that the majority of job leads and new business come through people you know, it’s smart to increase the odds.

Keep calm and carry on.
When faced with a winter of discontent, an important thing to remember is that it will ultimately turn to spring, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Take stock of what is going right in your life: family, friends, job, bank account, puppy, etc. At the risk of sounding too Holly Golightly, it’s always good to look at the bright side.  There’s always someone worse off than you.  While we don’t wish an unfortunate situation on anyone, it may put your own in perspective and stop you from wallowing, particularly if you are sinking into the “woe is me” portion of the broadcast.

Instead, enjoy the holidays with friends and family, have a cup of eggnog, relax and then as the New Year arrives, think about your career resolutions for the year ahead so you can start fresh and confident about what you want to accomplish in 2011.

What are you doing to keep your options warm in this cold snap? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter (@BestPublicist).

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