Photo: Flickr/Trey Ratcliff
We all make New Year’s resolutions to do better professionally, to get a better job, a promotion and to make more money, but all too often we fail to harness these dreams to a workable plan of action. Today is Feb. 1 — how much progress have you made on your career goals for 2013?Commit to Your Dreams and the Plans That Bring Them to Life
The world of work is no longer as secure as it once was. Lifetime job security is gone, replaced by most Americans changing jobs about every four years. The reality is that your current or next job is just a stop along the way. You can regain control of your life by making 2013 the year you replace blind loyalty to the corporation with loyalty to your own long-term economic survival. Make this the year you commit to enlightened self-interest, to understanding and applying practical career management strategies that will put security and fulfillment in your life.
Live Up to Your Dreams
Most people sacrifice the struggle for a life of fulfillment to the whims of instant gratification. The constant din of consumerism takes your focus away from the long term and encourages you to live up to your income and not up to your dreams. The result is all too often that you get into debt way over your head and, trapped like a mouse on a paddle wheel, you are too busy running in place to even think about strategies for moving forward.
You live in a world that encourages you to demand instant gratification: “Have it all and have it now; life is tough and you are special, you owe it to yourself!” Don’t let yearnings for instant gratification and temporary status derail the work you know it requires to bring your life’s dreams to reality. This year, commit to the pursuit of plans that will bring your dreams to life.
Turn your dreams into practical goals that you can work toward, because whatever you want in life, you can probably achieve it if you work hard and are smart enough. Break those goals down into smaller and then smaller steps, until there is always some small action that, taken today, will take you one step closer to manifesting those goals that give your life meaning.
Steal Time to Make Your Dreams and Your Life Happen
The average American gets home from work, watches five hours of TV and goes to bed — not always in that order. You can make your dreams reality and you can bring your goals to life by giving up one 30-minute TV sitcom four nights a week. Steal just two hours a week and invest it in learning how to manage your career, and in just 12 months you can revolutionise your life.
Use that time to invest in your future, learn what it really takes to get back to work, to protect the job you have, to get a better job, to get a promotion; to plan and execute a job or career change without disruption, to write that novel or launch that business.
Make the commitment to take control of your destiny by applying the strategies and tactics of intelligent career management to the realities of today’s insecure professional world. Give up one sitcom a week on the TV to change your dreams into realities. Don’t become a couch potato and watch life whiz by on the silver screen; invest yourself in making your life one of success and fulfillment.
Protect Your Job and Boost Your Employability
Do you know why your job exists? Strip away all the window dressing and at its core, your job exists for one simple reason: to identify, prevent and solve problems within its area of responsibility in order to help the company make money, save money or otherwise improve productivity.
Try to see yourself and your work in this light know you are a problem-solver with a particular area of expertise. This will lead you to engage in your work with new priorities:
- Execute every aspect of my work in ways that anticipate, identify and reduce the occurrence of the problems that typically plague my week
- Execute my responsibilities in ways that show respect for the responsibilities of others, both within my department and elsewhere, who in turn must deal with the product of my work
- Address the problems and challenges that occur within my areas of responsibility in an efficient, professional, timely and good-natured manner.
- Learn something from the problems I tackle every day that will help me improve personal productivity by anticipating preventable problems, and lessening the impact of the unpreventable ones
Unfortunately, technology constantly changes the skills you need to do your work. If you are not consistently developing new skills, you are being paid for abilities that are rapidly becoming obsolete — a situation that can cost you this job and your ability to find another.
There are many ways to protect your job and boost your employability, but first steps should always involve self-analysis and a talk with your boss. There isn’t a boss in the world who doesn’t appreciate a staffer asking for guidance about ways to improve skills and performance. Implement the advice you receive, and follow up informally every six to eight weeks to communicate both your progress and your commitment. Informal but consistent follow-up keeps you on the radar of those who matter.
In every department and company there is an inner circle and an outer circle, and these are the ways you make it into the inner circle; that place where plum assignments, raises, promotions and job security all live.
Connectivity and the Skills of Professional Survival
In an insecure world of work, with job security a thing of the past, you obviously want to avoid the financial dislocation that comes with the traumas of unanticipated job change. For any clear-headed professional, enlightened self-interest dictates that you learn and apply the practical career survival strategies that will give you greater control over your destiny and better tools for managing the continuity of your employment.
Connectivity increases credibility, visibility and stability. Just as your company has an inner circle, so too does your profession, and becoming part of it delivers benefits that can have an immediate positive impact on your career.
Social networking, through LinkedIn or one of the many other networking sites, allows you to reach out into an almost limitless community of like-minded professionals, on a local or global basis. These contacts can help you grow professionally, acting as mentors and allies. They can also help you in a job search today, or one planned for the future, with introductions at their own companies or to the right people at other companies.
You should also become a member in the local or regional chapter of a professional association. This offers similar benefits to social networking but on a smaller scale. However, association membership puts you on a recognise-in-the street basis with the most committed and best-connected people in your profession and local area — these are the people who can most immediately impact your career.
No one has ever thought to explain to you that with job and career change constant throughout your half-century work-life, the most important skills you can develop for achieving success and fulfillment are the skills of job search and career management, and of all the career management skills you need to develop, professional connectivity and your ability to network is the most important.
Career navigation is a critical-to-happiness aspect of your life and that deserves study and management. Make 2013 a time in which you study the building blocks of job search and career management that enable you compete in a fiercely competitive job market.
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