Kick start your career in the new year

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

With the month of January now well underway, many employees are preparing to return to work for the new year. For many people, the holiday season is a good time to take a break from work, celebrate career achievements from the previous year and set goals for the shiny new one.

The new year always brings with it a sense of motivation, positive energy and fresh inspiration. There’s something about looking at a crisp new calendar or diary that encourages the shedding of bad habits and a resolution to form new, better habits and improved work processes for the new year. 

This time of year also presents workers with an opportunity to assess their career. Some people, after having some time to reflect during vacation, may wonder if they’re still heading in the right direction. Others may realise they need to boost their career to achieve their goals and get to where they want to be.

Whether you’re deciding to make a big change in your work life, or want to improve your work performance, here are some steps to help you kick start your career in the new year.

Be Real with Yourself About Whether You’re on the Right Path

If you’re unhappy in your current job, the fresh energy of the new year may give you the motivation you need to make a change.

Ask yourself if you are really doing what you want to do with your life? Is your career aligned with your own personal values and authentic self? We spend so much of our lives at work – more time than we spend with our families or friends. It’s important to feel positive about your job and the company or organization you work for.

If your career doesn’t reflect your true personality or sense of self, a career assessment may be in order. Write down where you want to go. Then find out how you can get there. Are there people in your life that you could ask for help or guidance? Having a mentor, or just someone you can talk to honestly about your work situation, can be invaluable in figuring out the answers to these questions and getting started in the right direction.

Talk to Your Manager About Your Career Development

Your manager should also play an important role in your professional development, supporting and encouraging you in your career goals. 

In the new year, ask your manager to book out some one-on-one time, to talk about your career development. A good manager will have a professional development program in place for all team members, to ensure each individual is continuing to learn, grow and develop within their role and the organization.

With your professional development program, you’ll work closely with your manager to define your goals and the practical career steps you need to take to achieve them. Your manager can help you join a professional organization or find a suitable mentor.

With the new year, you might like to offer to take on some new responsibilities, or tasks relevant to the position above you, to show your commitment to achieving your development goals.

Take the Time to Get Organized at Work

Towards the end of the year, when many employees are at risk of feeling fatigued or burnt out, things can get a little chaotic. You may have noticed your work habits sliding as you rushed to meet deadlines, juggle projects and wrap up work for various clients.

The new year presents the perfect opportunity to take stock of your organizational skills – or lack of – and set up some new processes and habits that will make your daily work life smoother. And less stressful!

These days, we’re lucky to have technology to help us get organized. There are many apps available to help workers stay focused and be more productive. Check out our list of top productivity applications that can help you get more done in less time. Find technology solutions that work for you, then stick to them, incorporating them into your daily routine. 

You should also set some time aside to get your CV up-to-date and in order – you never know when a new opportunity may come knocking at your door. Being prepared to step up into a new role, or explore an exciting new path, will make that shift a whole lot easier when the time comes.

Learn a New Skill Through Online Learning

In a recent article, we looked at how you can improve your job prospects with online learning. eLearning is an excellent way to improve existing skills or learn something completely new. If you’re keen to move up within your company or branch out in a new direction, expanding your skill set is an ideal way of setting yourself apart from the competition. You can even use your daily commute to advance your career, investing this time in learning new skills, grow your professional network and keeping up-to-date with industry news.

Through online learning, you’re also being continually challenged and engaged, which is a vital part of feeling satisfied and happy in your job. Whether you’re looking for specialized industry courses, or simply want to improve your interpersonal skills for better work relationships, there’s bound to be an eLearning course to suit your needs. So-called “soft skills” such as learning how to actively listen, or improving your level of emotional intelligence, are very highly valued in the modern workforce, particularly for managers.

Online courses can also help you to confront old fears, helping you to feel more comfortable about public speaking, for example. This year, why not make a promise to yourself to make the most of any opportunities that come your way – accepting invitations to chair a meeting, give a presentation or judge on a panel. Stepping out of your comfort zone, and succeeding, is a hugely rewarding experience and something to celebrate at the end of the year.

Happy new year and good luck kicking your new career goals!

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