New Year's Resolutions professionals should make

2014: A great time to reflect, prioritize and create new goals for a successful career year. Photo: AP

HARRISBURG, Pa., January 2, 2014 – The New Year presents a great opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and to plan for the one ahead, thinking about how and where improvements should be made. With that in mind, the time is right to consider how to get ahead professionally.  

For those ambitious professionals who want to make 2014 the best year their careers have ever seen yet, here are some resolutions well worth considering: 

1. Nail that promotion or get that raise. 

Have a discussion with the boss or supervisor to find out exactly what it’s going to take this year to get a raise or promotion. Also, find out what constitutes a realistic timeline for getting to that point. Employees should think about what the needs of the company are and what they can bring to the table with regard to those needs. Even the most outstanding skills won’t result in a raise if they aren’t crucial to the company’s success. 

In order to prove that they’re able to offer what the company needs, employees should brainstorm a list of their significant achievements over the past year. This can include big projects and large-scale tasks they’ve completed through their own initiative without being asked, as well as professional recommendations from co-workers and clients, ways they’ve made their boss’ job less stressful, and similar contributions and achievements. 

After preparing a solid list of significant contributions to the company, employees should first rehearse what they will say to their manager or boss with a friend. That way, when the actual conversation takes place with the boss, it will be less likely to cause confidence-robbing anxiety. 

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2. Stress less.

Stress is a natural response to the constant demands faced on a daily basis. While at times can actually can be productive, in most cases it zaps energy and gets in the way of optimal performance. Getting more sleep can go a long way in lowering stress levels (aim for 7 to 8 hours each night). Getting involved in a workout routine at the local gym can work wonders for stress levels, too. 

It’s also important to keep things in perspective. Consider how crucial a given dilemma really is. If the outcome won’t matter a year from now, it probably isn’t all that important. 

3. Get on the ball with organization. 

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The two most critical areas in a job setting are the desktop and the calendar. Consider color-coding tasks listed on the calendar to organize them by category. Also, strive to keep a tidy desktop, as bosses do pick up on this. A clean, organized desk speaks volumes about the way an employee manages his or her work, and it also helps keep stress levels in check. 

4. Find the courage to walk away.

Employees who feel they have no opportunity for growth or advancement or who truly can’t stand their current boss or company should consider making the switch to another job. If it’s not the company that’s the problem, consider staying with them and simply switching to another position in a different department. Internal moves require less work, and they often permit easier career progression — especially important for those looking to earn a raise or promotion.

Either way, employees should do some serious thinking about exactly what it is they want out of their careers. Once they are confident they know the answer, they should make sure that their personal brand is a good match for that position by conveying that well. This can be accomplished in three ways: online through Google search results and LinkedIn profiles; on paper via cover letters and resumes; or in person through networking and interviews. 

Above all, keep in mind that in a tough economy such as this one, quitting a job is only advisable when you’ve already lined up another position.

5. Maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Spending too much time at work is a sure fire way to get burned out. It’s certainly not a smart practice heading into the New Year at a time when employees should be greeting the year ahead feeling energized and enthusiastic. For help in maintaining a good balance, make it a goal to get to work earlier and leave earlier so that time in the evening can be reserved for relaxing and being with family and friends. 

Another way to maintain the work-life balance is to think about co-workers who can take on extra tasks and consider delegating work to them. If delegating isn’t possible, prioritize what must be done. Complete what absolutely needs to be accomplished, and save the tasks that aren’t as urgent for a later date.  

6. Network smarter. 

Avoid a self-centered approach to networking. Instead, approach networking with a team perspective. Bear in mind that others are there to learn and receive help too. Networking should be a beneficial experience for everyone involved. 

Set aside time to connect with people on LinkedIn at least a few times each week. If making connections in person is preferred, set a goal to attend one networking event each month. Great speakers can often make these events worthwhile, offering valuable insight and bits of wisdom to those who attend. For ideas on how to get started, check in with alumni associations from colleges and see what regional associations have to offer. 

Start 2014 off right by adopting these New Year’s resolutions to get ahead in the workplace. Stop putting it off and sitting around without taking action. There’s never been a better time than right now to take that career from just all right to amazing. So get out there and make it happen in 2014!  


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Katie Elizabeth

Katie Elizabeth is a freelance blogger, content coordinator and communications grad student. She’s always on the lookout for the latest and greatest social media and tech tactics and thinking about the creative ways in which professionals can actually USE them. 

She’s worked in several different industries, including real estate, sustainability and career development. When she’s not writing or studying, she’s probably on her way to a concert or exploring flea markets and antique stores.


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