A New Year and a Fresh Look at Your Career

January 15, 2017

By Michelle Branigan

Regardless of whether you have been in your job for 5 or 20 years, there are always things that you can do to improve your skills and learn new ones. We all read on a daily basis how the world of work is changing — more automation, more technology — and that in many cases translates to our own specific jobs. One thing that remains constant, however, is the need for us as individuals to be responsible for our own career.

For some, the view is that personal development is the responsibility of the employer, or their immediate supervisor. After all, they know what the jobs entail. And for many years this is exactly what happened. You joined a company for life and your career path was very clearly signposted. Nowadays many individuals expect to work for a number of different companies during their career, be that by choice or necessity.

But only you can make your career successful. Yes there are things that will affect the goals you set for yourself (global recession, anyone?), but dealing with setbacks is part of life, and being able to adapt positively to changing circumstances will help ensure you meet your goals.

In the words of Jim Rohn,* “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” 

So as you look forward to 2017, take some time to look at where you are in your career and identify actions that will help you to that next stage, be that a promotion, a new position, or just improving how you do your current job.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Set goals. Identify what it is you would like to do (e.g., be a better public speaker, learn how to manage a website, mentor someone), and then give yourself a time frame for achieving this goal. At the end of that time frame, look back to assess your progress. If it’s two years since you decided you wanted to lead a new project and you still haven’t done it, ask yourself why.
  • Look for opportunities to improve your skills and knowledge — read more, take a course, or volunteer on a committee. Sometimes even volunteering outside of work will develop and improve skills that you need to advance in your career. If you think you don’t have to employ leadership, tact and diplomacy as a kid’s baseball or hockey coach, take a trip to a local game some time to see this in action.
  • Be proactive. Talk to the boss or your HR department, or even your colleagues, and let them know you’re interested in learning something new. Always waiting to be invited, or expecting those around you to know you’re keen to advance, may see you waiting a long time.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. This is something that often holds people back — the fear of doing it wrong, of being seen as a failure. Most of us fail at something along our careers. The trick is to learn from your mistake and use the experience to do things better the next time. Whenever someone in an interview tells me they have never made a mistake, they quickly move to the bottom of my list.
  • Help others. This sounds counterintuitive sometimes and we’ve all seen the person who’s made their way to the top on the backs of their colleagues, but when you help others you now have a friend in your corner you feel better yourself. And you have someone in your network who will be invested in your success. This is an all-round win-win situation.

So as we move deeper into January and the deep freeze of a Canadian winter, pencil in some time to reflect on your aspirations for this year and set some targets.

In the words of Jim Rohn once again, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” 

 * Jim Rohn (1930-2009) was a philosopher, entrepreneur and businessman; https://www.jimrohn.com.

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