Like the old saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life," it's never a bad time to start moving your career in a better direction. Here are 10 New Year's resolutions to help.
Pay Attention in Class
Treat every workday like a school day. Be sure you learn something and use it to make yourself more productive. It doesn't have to relate to your skills set. It may be as simple as understanding how to work with specific peers or emotional intelligence. Take mental notes. Don't sleepwalk through the day.
Look for the Next Rung
You need to excel at your job. This is how you gain credibility. But understanding your next step is key to career happiness. Career pathing is critical to remaining engaged on the job. Schedule discussions with your manager to get clarity on the next challenge. If you don't get it on your team or in your company, it may be time to look elsewhere.
Understand Company Goals
Make sure you understand how your job contributes to your company's business objectives. Are you in a revenue-generating role? A brand-awareness role? Is your mission to delight the customer? Knowing how your job fits into the big picture will give you inspiration and a sense of accomplishment -- and will help you understand your job's impact.
Bring integrity to your job. Whether you're running the company or cleaning its bathrooms, be honest in all you do. Don't call in sick just to get a day off -- that's stealing. Put in an honest day's work. Be accountable. If you're working remotely, be sure you are. Do what you say you're going to do. Honesty and reliability mean a lot to your manager.
OK, this was probably on your last New Year's resolutions list, but that's because it's so important. Try to break a sweat for 20 minutes, three days a week. Go for a walk at lunch. Join a gym. Lift weights. A healthy body makes a healthy mind. Exercising increases blood flow to the brain and gives you ideas. You'll be more productive at work, and best of all, you'll feel better.
Stretch Your Role
Occasionally think how you can go above and beyond. Are there projects outside your defined role you could help with? Be proactive; ask to join. Come up with your own ideas, and work with your manager to implement them. If you're a hamster, step off the wheel and poke your head out of the cage. Stretch a little. This won't go unnoticed.
Make sure you and your manager are in firm agreement on what you're doing. Be proactive and get on his calendar to ensure you're meeting or exceeding expectations. Don't assume he's paying close attention. There are bad managers. If there's a disconnect between what you're doing and what your manager wants, you're partly to blame. Don't wait until review time.
Even if you work primarily alone, be sure to make time to understand your peers' roles and how they go about their jobs. Show an interest. Don't just choose a few friends and become part of a clique. High school is over. You never know when you may need people -- or be reporting to them.
Don't leave people waiting for answers. If you're in an email environment, return emails promptly. Let people know what you're doing. If you're working on a project, always ask yourself who needs to know about it, then tell them. Talk to people; give them a heads up. And when someone helps you out, be sure to thank him. It's amazing this even needs to be on a list, but bad communicators abound. Don't be one of them.
Make Time for Play
Have fun. Work hard, but smile while you're doing it. No one likes a grump. Approach each day with a positive spirit and stay loose. Enjoy your family and friends as well. Make time for them -- and you. It's called work/life balance. All work and no play makes life a chore.