With Christmas behind us (wasn’t it just the Fourth of July last week?!) and New Year’s approaching, it’s hard not to think ahead even more. What do you want to see yourself accomplish in the New Year? Is there anything you fell short in completing this year? Did you even have goals set for yourself?…
Just like we set goals for ourselves in our “outside work” lives, as proactive professionals we should set some career goals for ourselves too! These goals can be as major or minor as you feel comfortable committing yourself to, but the best way to succeed in the next year is to set yourself on as fail-proof a plan as possible.
So where do you even begin? What are some key areas in which you could stand to grow? We’ve listed a few growth areas that will help you take the ball and run.
1. Don’t stop learning!
Like athletes who stay in shape year-round, you need to stay in training mode. Even if your years at school are (far) behind you, there is really no reason for your season of learning to be over. Some employers will offer continued education as an incentive to their employees. Others will allow employees time off to attend seminars, classes, or workshops. Check with your human resources department to see what options are available to you!
You can also spend time outside the office giving your knowledge a boost. Interested in learning how to write code for websites? There are numerous online tutorials and classes you can take. Always wanted to learn how the greats craft their marketing copy? A quick Google search will lead you to hundreds of informative podcasts geared toward imparting industry secrets to listeners. Find an education outlet and style that suits your schedule and learning preferences and grow your brain this New Year!
2. Be open to opportunities, and then do a great job.
This does not mean saying “yes” to everything and overloading yourself. When an opportunity opens up at work, whether it’s to be part of a strategy group for a certain area in the office or something larger like stepping up into a new and unknown position, don’t be so quick to turn the opportunity down. Yes, it might be uncomfortable and inconvenient at first, especially if this new task or position is far outside of your current comfort zone, but it might get you to the “end zone.” Consider the pros and cons of your new opportunity and make your decision based on what the end result will be in taking this chance, not based on the short-term discomforts (as long as they’re minor).
As I look over this last year, at 4word, Lori Berry did a great job of “getting the ball” at 4word to become the Director of Operations.
First, Lori started learning the role in a support position to our then COO, which prepared her to “get open.” Then, when 4word’s COO needed to step out for a while, Lori stepped in, “took the ball, and carried the team,” without asking for compensation, etc. Once the position became permanently open, Lori was perfectly positioned for the job, as she did a great job “stepping up” before being asked. In addition, she humbly asked for advice (and asked for a mentor) and learned many new skills. She was proactive and took action. All along the way, she prayed and asked for wise counsel.
When I think about the key to Lori’s professional progression, I first think about her faith and continuous focus on God’s plan for her.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
3. Recruit a team (maybe a mentor?) for advice.
Think about most great business icons. Some may credit all of their success to themselves in a prideful way, but many successful professionals will pay homage to the men and women who supported and influenced their career journey. Boxers have coaches, politicians have staff members and analysts, and professionals have mentors.
Mentorship is almost always cited by successful business people as a major part of how they achieved their success. Who wouldn’t benefit from having someone help them target their goals and apply every ounce of wisdom and grit toward seeing them achieve their professional dreams?
The biggest hurdle most professionals, especially professional women, face is finding a mentor. If mentorship is something that you would like to see yourself accomplish in the New Year, consider applying as a mentee to the 4word Mentor Program. Our 10-week sessions are affordable and feature some of the most seasoned and competent mentors around. If you want to start the year off with a mentor, apply to the upcoming session by January 8, 2016!
Don’t let this year go by without accomplishing something on your professional bucket list. Decide on a step — or three — up the corporate ladder for yourself and devise a game plan to see yourself achieve those goals by the end of the New Year. Seize the day and Happy New Year!
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