After the holidays, when many of us return to work in January, many of us will be asked the same question by friends, family and coworkers: What’s your New Year’s resolution? To which the average person will give the typical answers: exercise more, eat less, travel, etc.
This year, make your resolutions work for you! As you reflect on the past and set goals for the future, take the opportunity to reexamine your professional life and your goals at work. After all, over half of our waking hours are spent either at the office or commuting to and from it!
Here are some work-related targets to strive towards in 2010:
2010 is the perfect time to tackle those projects you put on the backburner in ’09. They don’t even need to be your projects. Somewhere in the land of the lost and abandoned, there is a project once loved and pursued with enthusiasm that never saw the light of day. Keep your eyes peeled for something that inspires you, blow the dust of the file folders and breathe new life into an old initiative.
2. Take Risks
In 2009 you flew under the radar, played it safe and kept your opinions to yourself. You nodded along in meetings and grumbled in private about the inefficiencies of this or that process which hasn’t been changed in over a decade.
This year, speak up in meetings, challenge the status quo and show that you’re willing to be accountable and make a positive change in your organization. Stop the grumbling and put forth solutions. You might even get a pat on the back.
3. Ask for a Raise or Promotion
With talks of lay-offs, hiring freezes and unemployment soaring, many of us were just happy to have a job in 2009. You worked tirelessly to reach your targets, came in to the office early, stayed until late and gave 200% every day without asking for a thing in return.
Now, as things slowly recover, your organization or department may have you to thank (in part) for weathering the storm so well. If you’ve paid your dues and your requests are reasonable, there is nothing wrong with seeking fair compensation or recognition for your efforts.
4. Get organized!
How many hours a day do you spend looking for your stapler? What about that file that you’re sure you saved – you just can’t remember which folder you saved it in?
Many of us have mastered the art of organization at home – our DVDs are in alphabetical order and everything in the pantry is labeled – but the office is a different story. There are piles of documents to be sorted, sticky notes on everything and your virtual desktop is even worse. Before you jump back into things, take an hour to purge what you no longer need and develop a system that will work for you in 2010.
5. Reconnect – Build and Expand your Professional Network
Need an excuse to reconnect with a former colleague from work or university? The New Year – especially the turn of a decade – provides a perfect opportunity to reach out and say hello. Technology, whether through your PC or your Blackberry, makes it easier than ever. Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to find those you used to know and get to know those who share interests with you. Sites like meetup.com can help you find common interest groups to join. You can also apply to sit on committees and boards where you can make a difference as well as meet other professionals with similar goals.
6. Attain a Work-Life-Balance
Last year, your nine-to-five was more like an eight-to-eight. There were some days in the winter you never even saw daylight – you were in before sunrise, left the office after sunset and went to the cafeteria at lunch to grab a sandwich to eat at your desk!
Besides lacking Vitamin D, your family and personal life has also taken a hit. You can’t remember the last time you went to your son’s choir practice or watched your daughter play hockey. Your friends joke that they talk to your voicemail more than they talk to you and the last movie you saw was the Titanic.
In 2010, this should be your top goal: set boundaries and maintain a balance. Some of us have adopted the philosophy of staying at work until the job is done but the truth is, your work will never be finished. There will always be more to do and at some point you have to recognize that you have done all you can for the day and a life awaits you beyond your cubicle walls.
7. Do Good Work
Given the sacrifices we make for work, one can only hope that it is for the greater good. But if you feel uncomfortable telling people about what you do and have trouble making eye contact with yourself in the mirror, you are probably not proud of your work.
Working in the not-for-profit sector has it’s pros and cons – it’s not for everyone – but there are many other ways to make a difference. There are champions in the private sector that make a difference in society either through the business they do or the way they do business.
Is your workplace diverse? Is it environmentally sustainable? Do they treat their employees well and give back to the community? Do you feel like your work has a net positive impact on the world? These are all questions you should ask yourself in 2010.
8. Build Relationships at Work
If you’ve worked at your company for ten years and still don’t know the name of “the tall guy” in the cubicle next to you, 2010 should mark a turning point for you.
What’s amazing is that sometimes a ten minute informal chat at the water cooler with an employee can bring forth solutions to problems that executives never reach after hours in a boardroom meeting behind closed doors.
Managers especially should take the time in the New Year to get to know their teams better. Those who manage large departments can sometimes get lost in the day to day shuffle. Studies show that employee engagement levels are highest when people like and get along with their coworkers, so anything you can do to facilitate team-building in the New Year should be among your top priorities.
They say learning is a life-long process and yet it seems like we have much of it behind us by the time we’re in our twenties.
Whether you’ve hit a ceiling in your field or think it’s time for a second career, there are more opportunities now than ever to continue your education. This can come in many different forms, whether you pursue an MBA, take evening courses to improve your technical skills, buy computer software to learn a new language or take advantage of professional development opportunities at work. Beyond workshops and conferences, your employer may even be willing to fund your post-graduate studies so keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and be ready to take advantage of them.
10. Just Say No!
You don’t even think before you say it anymore – if someone needs a favour or offers you an assignment, you say “yes” before they can even finish the sentence.
If you feel bogged down and behind at work, you may think it’s because you’re not doing your job. But chances are, you’re doing your job and then some. Unfortunately, your accomplishments are overshadowed by your growing list of “to-dos” that are being pushed from one calendar year to the next and unless you work around the clock, you’ll probably never get around to them.
In 2010, be assertive and resolve to resist the temptation to take on more than you can handle. No one will perceive it as an effort to do less. It’s a commitment to doing what you do better.
On behalf of the team here at Career Edge Organization, we wish you a safe and Happy Holiday and all the best in the New Year!