When it comes to your professional life, resolutions aren't just for the New Year. In fact, by setting goals during another month, it can be easier to avoid the traditional February fizzle-out. These five career resolutions serve as valuable guideposts throughout the year, helping you identify growth opportunities and measure progress.
Start Networking Today
Many professionals turn to networking when they need something, such as a new job or an introduction. For the best results, don't wait until you're desperate — make it one of your career resolutions to start today. Join the local chapter of a professional organization, attend a chamber of commerce happy hour or reach out to an old contact on LinkedIn. Build relationships slowly, and be sure to add value or do favors for others whenever possible. Down the road, this solid foundation can see you through job losses and difficult work projects.
When you're happily employed, it's easy to forget about your resume, LinkedIn profile and public professional profiles. If that sounds familiar, "get current" should be on your list of career resolutions. Update your job information on LinkedIn, professional blog and work-related social media profiles. Then, update your resume with responsibilities from your current position. This step makes you look active and engaged online and ensures that you're ready to act when potential opportunities arise.
Build New Skills
Think about the qualifications you need to make the next step in your career. Are you prepared? If not, skill-building should be one of your career resolutions. Look over descriptions for your dream job, and identify two or three hard skills that you're currently lacking. Then, map out a way to master each one. If you need a large writing portfolio, you might take a self-paced online grammar course, join a local writers' group or start submitting one article a month for publication.
Stress can be a serious problem for professionals — over time, the compounding effects can lead to burnout and health issues. Do your future self a favor by building habits that can help reduce stress and boost health. Organize your inbox and develop an email filing system. Build in exercise by parking 15 minutes from the office. Learn how to prioritize and how to leave work behind when you go home for the day. By starting these behaviors before you reach a position of power, you can set yourself up for a healthier, more relaxed routine.
Create a Company-Wide Presence
If you tend to stay within your department, make it one of your career resolutions to branch out. Go to lunch at a different time and strike up a conversation with someone in the break room. Volunteer for a cross-departmental project and make a point to do spectacular work. Say hello to executives in the hallway. When you're more visible within the company, supervisors are more likely to think of you for promotions, special projects and other career-boosting growth opportunities.
Career resolutions create a framework for advancement, both in your current position and beyond. By starting today and making small steps, you can develop your career in a comfortable, manageable way.
Photo courtesy of Simon Fraser University - University Communications at Flickr.com