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December 2013

3 Career Resolutions You Need to Make in 2014

3 Career Resolutions You Need to Make in 2014
Fireworks photo from flickr user wobble-san, licensed under creative commons.

The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on  what's been working well and what you'd like to change for the year ahead-- both in your personal and your professional life. Thinking about your core competencies, and the goals you'd like to accomplish in 2014, I propose three career resolutions you need to make for 2014 to make them happen:

  1. Create a career development plan
  2. Get a mentor/be a mentor
  3. Nurture your professional network

Create a career development plan

Whether your top career goal is to get promoted, find a new job, or expand your solopreneur business, setting concrete goals and creating a career development plan is key to helping you get there.

Why is it so important? Because it starts by defining your career goals, assessing both your strengths and areas for improvement, and then mapping your development goals to specific, measurable activities. Career development plans are not one size fits all! Simply attending a conference and a few random industry webinars doesn't cut it either. You need to create a personalized road map that focuses on what you need to learn and improve upon to attain your specific professional goals.

Get a mentor/be a mentor

Everyone can benefit from an outside point of view from time-to-time. That's where a mentor comes in. Ideally, you want to look for someone who is further along on your career path, whose experiences would be valuable to you as you carve out your career path. Or they can be someone who is exceptionally skilled in one of the competencies you ID'd in your career development plan as being one you need to work on.

Similarly, if you are an individual contributor looking to take on a management role, mentoring is a great way to give you hands-on coaching experience you'll be able to apply with your future direct reports. And if you are an experienced professional, with decades of experience under your belt, mentoring is a great way to give back to your profession and your community. 

Still not sold on the idea of mentoring? Check out this blog post on Convince & Convert on the virtuous cycle of mentorship.

Nurture your professional network

Don't be that person who only reaches out to former colleagues when they are looking for a new opportunity! Make time each week to reach out. Grab lunch once a week with a current or former colleague you don't see very often. Drop someone an email w/a link to an interesting article you read that made you think of them. Follow them on social media and share their blog posts. There are so many small ways to reach out that don't take much time, but make a significant impact on the receiving end.

If you need some ideas on more ways to reach out, check out this list of 52 random acts of kindness (that's one for each week of 2014); not all apply, but many of them do.

Keep yourself accountable

After you settle on your career resolutions, the best way to keep on track with them is to share the resolutions with your friends, family and support network. Ask them to help keep you accountable, and to cheer you on as you go. Now you're on your way to making 2014 a year full of career success.