How to Make Career Resolutions – and Keep Them!

After the holidays parties end, the gift wrap is left in shredded piles, and the last cookie crumbs are swept away, it’s time to look forward to the year ahead. While a lot of fuss may be made about losing those end-of-the-year pounds, the start of a new year is also a fantastic time to refocus on a different type of goals – your career resolutions.

But, just like personal wellness goals, many of us are intimidated to take the first steps towards change; inevitably, the question becomes, “Where do I even begin?”

Before you become overwhelmed with the pressure of making (and keeping) lofty professional goals for 2016, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

Plan for the Positive

The best way to ensure resolution success is to begin planning early. Don’t fall into the trap of hastily creating gigantic goals on January 1 without a game plan! Start your planning now, and you’ll have an easier time enacting your plan once the new year begins.

When preparing, instead of focusing on negative goals (Ex. “I will stop being late to the office.” “I won’t be a push-over anymore.”), shift your thoughts towards positive changes you can commit to in the new year (Ex. “I will keep a more organized schedule.” “I will take negotiation classes.”). We’re more likely to embrace the challenge of change if we take the first steps with optimism, so make sure your resolutions include positive thoughts and encouraging language.

Be Specific

However, our big plans can sometimes get the best of us. Even when thinking positively, a massive goal can prove too daunting and scare us away from seeing our resolution through. For example, simply making the plan, “I will be more successful this year,” is a great thought, it’s tough to track any meaningful success with this plan.

Instead, narrow your career goals into targeted plans of action. “More successful,” may actually mean, “I will become a manager this year.” Find what success means to you in the year ahead, and spell out the steps specifically.

Write it Down, Make it Real

Language is a powerful thing. Just seeing your goals written down will make them feel more real. Take the time to write out (or type and print) your career resolutions. Then, proudly display them somewhere easy to see, whether it’s near a night stand or at your work station. A reminder of your plans never hurts!

Power in Numbers

You don’t need to tackle career resolutions alone! Coworkers can be great resources for asking questions and providing guidance along the way. They may even want to learn new skills with you. If you work on a team or other group setting, group goals are a great way to join forces and drive career development.

Start Small, but Dream Big

You can’t change everything at once. When planning your career resolutions for 2016, make sure to break down larger goals into easier to manager chunks. If, “I will become a manager,” is too lofty and unspecific, break down your resolution into smaller checkpoints, “I will complete the executive training course by March. I will complete shadowing managers by April,” and so on. Your big goals will always guide the way, but do yourself a favor and leave little bread crumbs along the path to victory in the year ahead.

Before you frantically rush into professional changes for the New Year, take the time to thoughtfully plan your course of action. Career resolutions can be a great motivator, just don’t let your own biggest plans stop you before you even start!

Do you have any tips for making career resolutions in the New Year? Share them below!

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