New Year, New Opportunity

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves” – William Shakespeare

New Year’s resolutions. Did you make any?

Or are you one of those people who gets caught off guard when someone says, “what’s yours?” and comes up with the usual roll-off-the-tongue response: “oh you know, just the usual, lose weight, do more exercise, achieve a better work-life balance, win the lottery.” And then do absolutely nothing about it.

There are many reasons why New Year’s resolutions end up falling by the wayside. It’s usually because we haven’t really thought about them properly. We haven’t really thought about what we want to see, feel or be able to do differently when we’ve achieved them or, indeed, how we’re going to get there.

And, typically, New Year’s resolutions focus on similar themes: start a new hobby; give up smoking; drink less coffee; see more of family and friends; run a marathon; jump out of a plane; do voluntary work. The list goes on. Sound familiar?

But how many of us start the new year thinking about our job or career resolutions? And do something about it?

I often hear people say, “I want to get a new job this year”, but do you really? In some cases it may be true, but have you thought about how you can make the job you already do work better for you and your aspirations? Too often we get to the end of the year, look back, and know we’ve done a bit of this and a bit of that, but find it hard to quantify and articulate the big stuff. How much further forward are we on the path to achieving our career goals?

Do you have ambition? Do you want to be in control of your career?

Yes? Then a new year is a great time to start!

Imagine how good it would be to finish 2015 and look back on two or three big things you’ve achieved which have really made a difference for your company, your career or, indeed, for yourself. What would you like to be celebrating as your achievements a year from now? What do you want to be known for? What will make you feel most proud? What will demonstrate that you’re two or three steps further down the path towards achieving your ambitions or indeed your happiness at work?

Each year, I decide on the two or three big things that I want to achieve with my career. Whenever someone mentions SMART objectives to me, I cringe. But the concept works. The difference is that in this context you’re not writing them so your employer or investors can hold you to account; you’re writing them to support yourself to realise your dreams. You’ll achieve so much more if you commit to achieving specific goals which are time bound. If your timelines slip, that’s fine, just reassess. You’re in control. But, if you don’t plan in the first place, the chances are that you’ll achieve a lot less. In fact, you’ll achieve very little.

This year I’ll achieve my three big goals within the following categories:

1.What I’ll do for the greater good of the organisation I work for through the job I’m employed to do, i.e. a single project that will make the greatest tangible difference;

2.What I’ll do to support my career as a learning and development professional, i.e. the opportunities can I create for myself in the workplace that expose me to areas of my profession that I’m yet to explore;

3.What I’ll do for myself as a person in the context of work, i.e. how I’ll continue to work on achieving my optimal work life balance, through loving what I do but remembering there’s life outside of the day job to be enjoyed as well.

These categories may not work for everyone but hopefully they’re a good place to start.

The main message I’d like to convey is that only you can take control of your career. Gone are the days where keeping your head down waiting to get noticed was a strategy for success. Sitting back and waiting for things to happen is old news.

Remember this:

1.STOP waiting for things to happen. You are your own change maker.

2.START planning your future. What does success mean for you? How are you going to get there? Who can help you achieve your goals

3.CONTINUE being the best version of yourself. The best version of you is AWESOME.

So what are you going to do in 2015?

If anything in this blog post struck a chord with you, I’d encourage you to put aside 30-60 minutes of your time, sit alone with a pen and piece of paper, and write a note to yourself about what you want to achieve in your career during 2015. Share it with someone.

Not only do I look forward to hearing your plans, I also look forward to writing a new post in January 2016 and celebrating everything we’ll have all achieved in 2015.

Happy New Year to one and all. May it be the year that sees all your dreams come true!

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