Ten Career Resolutions for Savvy Professionals

With the first full week of January in the books, there’s a decent chance your New Year’s resolution, if you made one, has already been broken.

According to statistics, approximately 25 per cent of Canadians make New Year’s resolutions, but 73 per cent eventually break them, with most abandoning their resolutions within seven days. While you may have given up on your personal resolutions to hit the gym, learn Spanish, or save money, there’s still plenty of time to set some specific professional resolutions that can help make 2016 the year you take your career to the next level!

1. Make a Plan

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Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten? Twenty? Having a clear idea of where you want your career to take you can clarify the steps you need to take to achieve those goals. For tips on how to build your short, medium and long-term career plan, click here.

2. Learn a New Skill

Your career plan should help you to identify your strengths, as well as areas you perceive as weaknesses. This year, aim to expand your expertise in any number of ways: learn a programming language, master a new software program, or take a course in project management or leadership.

Your new skill might offer immediate benefits in your career, like a promotion or a raise. But even if it doesn’t, learning new things as an adult is a key part of staying mentally sharp and can even help increase overall life satisfaction.

3. Get a Raise

If your company doesn’t tie annual performance reviews to salary increases, the onus may be on you to ask your boss for a pay increase. Before marching into your supervisor’s office and demanding a raise make sure you’re able to demonstrate your value to the company and explain why you’re worth the extra investment. Take stock of your accomplishments and research your market value to ensure you get what you’re entitled to.

4. Get Organized

While it may feel like you know where everything is in your office, having a well-organized workspace can increase productivity as well as creativity. It also shows your co-workers and supervisors that you are put-together and ready to work! Clear out your workspace, wipe down your desk, and organize your computer files and bookmarks to start 2016 off right.

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5. Be Proactive

Attend the optional training and professional development offered by your company. If there are none available, consider online courses from sites like edX and Coursera. Also, don’t just think of professional development as something that happens in the workplace. Take an interest outside of work and actively look for material and people that share your interest area and get involved.

6. Network

It is frequently said that it is not what you know but who you know. This highlights the importance of making contacts, reconnecting with fellow professionals, colleagues, friends, and family. This year, make an effort to attend more professional events and expand your network.

7. Learn How to Say No

While it feels great to be the go-to employee who is able to swoop in, agree to the impossible project, and get things taken care of, nodding enthusiastically to every opportunity that comes across your lap is a recipe for stress overload. When you’re overwhelmed with work and being inundated with last-minute requests to do more, it’s perfectly acceptable to politely (but firmly) refuse. Click here for some tips on saying no at work.

8. Get Moving

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Make it a habit to get up from your desk at regular intervals throughout the day. Take a walk around the office, step outside for some fresh air, do some push-ups, just do something other than sit at your desk. We have heard plenty about the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, but you may find that a walk of quick stretch can help you refocus and get back on track when you are finding it difficult to stay on task.

9. Update Your Resume

Keeping your resume up-to-date is important for several reasons. For one, if a recruiter or contact calls out of the blue with a great job opportunity, you’re going to want to have it ready to go. On the other hand, if the worst happens and you are fired or laid off from your position, you’re going to have enough to think about without adding updating your ancient resume into the mix.

It’s a lot easier to update your accomplishments periodically, when they’re fresh in your mind, rather than trying to add in a couple of years of experience all at once.

10. Leave a Job You’re Not Happy In

If you wake up miserable every morning because you can’t stand the thought of going to the office to do a job you hate, it’s time to leave. Look for tell-tale signals which show that you are not in the right job for you. If every day feels like a chore, your boss is a jerk, or you’re constantly stressed out, don’t allow your fear of the unknown to stop you from doing what you really want to do in life!

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