Most of us enter January with the best of intentions – whether it’s losing weight, smashing sales targets, eating less chocolate, or hitting the gym.
A few weeks in, and that burst of activity that motivated us seems like a distant memory! The truth is that January is a tough month – and on the back of Christmas spending, it’s a financially draining month. It’s a long month, and it’s a dark and cold month. Brrr.
But enough moaning. Let’s take a look at your career goals for this year. Are you on track, or do you already have that sinking feeling that nothing is going to change?
(Aside: do you even have career goals? You should! Read this for inspiration)
Change doesn’t just happen – it’s up to you. Here are 6 things you can start doing today to ensure that this is the best year yet for your career.
- Stretch yourself
When’s the last time you said to a colleague “I’d love to help/get involved in that” in a meeting? And then followed up? One of the main reasons candidates tell us they are looking for work is that their current position isn’t challenging them. I wonder how often there are plenty of new challenges to be found, but we’ve just kept our heads down?
Make a point of offering to help with something that is outside your comfort zone – your colleagues will appreciate it, and having a new project to get your teeth into might remind you that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere.
- Always be looking for the next rung on the ladder
One of the most frustrating things for us as recruiters is when candidates that have been offered a role with one of our clients decide to accept a counter offer and remain with their current employer. It’s frustrating not just because it sends us back to square one, but also because we’ve seen time and time again that accepting a counter offer is very rarely good for your career. It puts you in a precarious position, and compromises your job security. And it need never have got to that point at all.
If you are feeling restless or underused at work, be proactive. Schedule a discussion with your boss to talk about your frustrations. You don’t need to spell out that you are looking to change jobs, just take the opportunity to find out what challenges are ahead, and how you can get involved in some new projects. There could be plenty of things on the horizon that you are not aware of yet. Make it clear that you are up for the challenge, and looking elsewhere needn’t be your first instinct.
- Communicate more
One thing all of us could do better is to communicate more. If you are hanging on for someone else to get back to you, pick up the phone. Reply to emails promptly. Remember that if someone is waiting for a response from you, it is always better to drop them a line to apologise for the delay and assure them you will update them as soon as possible, than to say nothing at all and allow the relationship to slip. Making these small changes will help you to develop your reputation as someone who is hardworking and proactive in the workplace.
- Get active
Many of us will have set goals around exercise for the new year (and probably most of them are already starting to fall by the wayside!) If you’re finding that your good intentions of hitting the gym every night have given way to the allure of the couch and a glass of Shiraz, try getting active during the day – a twenty minute walk during your lunch break will increase blood flow to the brain and help you to feel refreshed and ready for the afternoon. In contrast to that sluggish post-lunch feeling you tend to get when you don’t take a proper break from your PC. Make colleagues aware that you will be walking daily, and you might even find you’ll get some company.
- Five minutes a day spent on achieving your goals is better than no time at all
If you’ve started to struggle with goals that you set yourself, it is possible that your goals were not realistic, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon them altogether. You can keep on track even at times when you’ve started to lose your resolve, just by doing a little at a time. Additionally, if you commit to five minutes, you’ll be surprised how often you end up doing 10, or 20, or actually meeting the goal you set yourself in the first place. Remember that a new year and a bundle of new personal goals doesn’t change the fact that you are still the same person facing the same challenges as before – so give yourself a break, and consider tackling your goals a little at a time.
It might sound silly but sometimes we don’t realise the impact of our attitude and behaviour can have on the overall mood of the office, and this is particularly pertinent during the winter months. Working hard will pay dividends for your career, but doing it with a smile will ensure you gain recognition as a good colleague and a good employee. Approach each day positively and you’ll find it will rub off on colleagues too.
So there are my six suggestions for getting your resolutions back on track. Good luck!
As for me – I’m off to the gym!