When you were a kid, your New Year's resolutions involved things like being nicer to your siblings, or getting straight As on your report card, but now that you're an adult, your priorities have wildly changed. Your resolutions might involve eating better, saving more money, and giving back to your community, but coming up with New Year's resolutions for your career is the perfect way to start 2016 off on the right foot.
Whether you're just starting your career or you've been working in your field for years now, 2016 should be the year you give your professional life a makeover. Maybe you already love your job and just want to do better, or maybe you hate your job and are determined to find a new one. Or maybe, like so many other people, you just barely tolerate your job, but you aren't sure what to do about it. No matter what your predicament is, a fresh start in the new year and a work-related resolution is just the thing your career needs to help you achieve happiness and fulfillment in the workplace.
Because the new year is all about new opportunity, and you want 2016 to be your best year ever, here are nine New Year's resolutions for your career. It's time to print some new business cards.
1. Make a five year plan
Whether you're a young professional or seasoned in your career, you should always be looking towards the future. At the beginning of this year, sit down and ask yourself: Where do I see myself in five years? What do I want out of my career and out of my life? Once you can answer those questions, you can start to make a plan, whether it involves switching jobs, vying for a promotion, or starting somewhere totally new. Your goals get easier to achieve the more you plan for them, trust me.
2. Join your company's intramural league
If your company has a softball team or running club, use this new year to get involved. It's a great way to get to know your coworkers better, expand your social circle, and even network within your company — not to mention, it's healthy for you! I'd call that a win-win resolution.
3. Stop going to work hungover
Maybe you were at happy hour with coworkers or out at a bar with friends, but no matter the circumstances the night before, it's time to stop going into work hungover. When you show up to work after a night of heavy drinking, you're generally a less effective employee. A sour stomach and pounding headache doesn't make your workday any easier, or any shorter, and if you think your boss doesn't notice, think again. And never call out because you've been drinking, because everyone will know (thanks, social media!). Seriously, this is for your own good.
4. Update your resume
Have you ever come across a job listing online that would be perfect for you, and then realized just how out of date your resume is? It can take hours to update a resume that hasn't been worked over in a year or more, but if you resolve to update your resume every few months, then when it comes time to apply to that dream job, you can spend more time on your cover letter and interview skills, and less time updating your employment status.
5. Create an online portfolio
If you work in a creative field, then you know how crucial your portfolio is. More than your resume or cover letter, your portfolio shows potential employers who you are and what you can do — and since it's 2016, it's time to do all of that online. While printed and polished portfolios are great to bring to a job interview, having a website that showcases your talents and highlights your achievements makes it that much easier to share, and that much easier to be found.
6. Keep your home and work life separate
Work is stressful, home can be dramatic, and when the two mix — well, let's just say it's a disaster, and this year, make it one to avoid. When you get to work each day, leave the fights with your roommate or the boyfriend drama behind you, and focus on your job. It will make you seem more professional, and it will make it easier for you to get your work done in a timely, focused manner. And when the day is over? Leave work at work. Of course you can (and should) vent to someone about work stress, but don't let it consume you outside of your nine-to-five. It's OK to check out at the end of the day, contrary to popular belief.
7. Find a work mentor
Whether it's your direct supervisor or coworker in your department you look up to, use 2016 to find a workplace mentor. Choose someone who has a job you want and a career you can learn from. There's no better teacher than experience, but just because you don't have much doesn't mean you can't learn from others who do.
8. Network, network, network
Let me say that again: network! Make it a major priority in 2016 to rub elbows with your industry's elite. Go to happy hours, sign up for work luncheons,and join networking groups. You never know who you meet and how that person can help you out down the road. Someone you meet at a cocktail hour could end up being a great professional reference down the line, or even a potential future employer.
9. Start your own business or website
Not satisfied with your current career, and can't seem to find an opportunity that interests you? Create your own! Use 2016 to create your own business, either full time or on the side, that is based on your interests, passions, and skills. Whether it's a tech start up, a fashion blog, or an at-home daycare, whatever business you make will challenge you and (hopefully) help you feel fulfilled in your career. It will be hard work and shouldn't be done on a whim, but if starting your own business is right for you, it can change your whole life.
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