The new year is here and everyone is making resolutions to lose weight or eat better. But what about workplace resolutions?
No employee or business leader had a perfect 2013, so it’s time to think of how you can improve your career this year. This could be as simple as being better organized or as complex as rethinking your professional goals.
Here are just a few resolutions business leaders should make to ensure their work life is a little brighter in 2014:
1. Reduce stress. Thanks to the tough economy, workplace stress is on the rise. A recent survey found eight in 10 Americans are stressed about some aspect of their job, so the experience of work stress is now near-universal. And stress has big effects on our health: 77 percent of people routinely experience stress turn into physical symptoms. So it should come as no surprise that 48 percent of workers see stress as having a negative impact on both their personal and professional lives.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely do away with stress. It’s part of our working lives, and can often motivate us to do better and work harder. Since it’s impossible to remove stress entirely from the equation, instead take some steps to reduce your stress levels in 2014.
It’s time to use some productivity hacks in order to streamline your day. For instance, did you know that the 80/20 rule states only 20 percent of your efforts account for 80 percent of your results? Eliminate things pulling down your productivity, like obsessively checking your email or putting too many items on your to-do list. Focus in on what matters and you’ll see your productivity increase and stress decrease this year.
2. Update your resume. You’ve probably been putting it off for eons, but it’s time to give your resume a varnish. You don’t have to be searching for a job in order to make sure your credentials are up-to-date. Add on a new project you worked on or the professional certificate you earned to ensure your resume is ready for whatever your professional life has in store. You can use a web app like Resunate to give your resume a little polish or a smartphone app like Shine to turn your text resume into an attention-grabbing infographic without a graphic design degree.
3. Network, network, network. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know but who you know,” before. It turns out this maxim is certainly true if you’re looking for a new position in 2014. Studies have shown 80 percent of jobs are actually not advertised, meaning the only way to find out about these opportunities is to put yourself out there.
Go to a job fair, networking event, or use social media to expand your professional circle. Consider using an app like Bump, where you can share virtual business cards just by bumping smartphones. Since it’s way too easy to lose a small scrap of paper, Bump is a great way to make sure you keep your new contacts in the new year.
4. Expand your skills. If you want your career to grow in 2014, it’s important to never stop learning. Expanding your skills can make you essential in the office and a more attractive candidate if you’re looking to switch companies. These added qualifications show you’re a go-getter and not happy maintaining the status quo. So take a class using Lynda.com, learn to code at Codeacademy, or get a certification in an industry-related field. Remember the learning process never stops and there’s no downside to improving your credentials.
5. Take on some challenges that scare you. It’s all too easy to become complacent on the job. Maybe your work situation isn’t exactly what you’ve always dreamed of, but you’re comfortable. In the New Year, resolve to take on challenges which push your boundaries and get you well outside your comfort zone. Take on a big project, find new ways to motivate workers, and suggest innovations to push the company in new directions. Challenging yourself and moving forward can often be scary, but it’s the only way to grow professionally and personally.
6. Be more organized. It’s hard to be productive or taken seriously as a professional when your desk looks like a Hoarders intervention waiting to happen. This year, it’s time to make organization a top priority. Even if everything looks clean as a whistle, the odds are you still have organizational issues holding you back from productivity. Create a system for managing your distractions, start utilizing to-do lists, and set reminders for big deadlines. Apps like Evernote can help you keep track of notes and to-do lists, while others like Expensify can keep your business expenses tidy.
7. Understand your contributions. It’s all too easy to get lost in the minutiae and lose track of the larger picture. Make a resolution to understand your role within the company and how you can better contribute to company-wide goals. This will make you stand out and help you climb up another few rungs on the career ladder.
The New Year is a great time for smart resolutions to move your career in the right direction. It’s not too late to make good resolutions that can help you end 2014 with brighter career prospects.
What are your career New Year resolutions? Share in the comments!
Ilya Pozin is a father, husband and founder of Open Me, a social greeting card company. Named one of Inc.’s ‘30 Under 30’ entrepreneurs, he’s made a career as a mentor, investor, and workplace productivity and leadership enthusiast. Ilya is also an avid writer, with his columns appearing on Inc., Forbes and LinkedIn. Originally from Russia, he currently resides in L.A. with his wife and two daughters. You can keep up with Ilya on Twitter.