How to refresh your career goals and get ahead

Posted on July 5, 2019
By Catherine Heilemann

September is knocking on the door and it’s full of promise. For most of us, the last quarter of the year is challenging for many reasons. The work increases as summer sales drive promotions and marketing to push more. People become more active as it heats up. And there is the press of another year ending to contend with.

Spring and that summer preparation also means we’re closing off another year. Another year that sees us reviewing our ideas and plans to see if we got to where we wanted to be. It’s us musing our time and how we spend it with the endless parade of pre-Christmas and end of year catch ups. Professionally and personally, many of us begin to question where we are in the scheme of things in December as we hurtle towards another year.

If you’re smart about it, you can use this increased temperature, felt both figuratively and literally, to kickstart your big plans for the coming year now.

Here’s a few tips on how you can spring clean your career goals and start 2019 with a bang

Audit your work performance

Think critically about where you saw yourself at the beginning of the year. Have you achieved what you wanted? Do you feel like you are moving forward?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did your performance reviews go?
  • Have you taken on the advice and worked towards improving?
  • Were you able to leverage positive aspects to gain more money, flexibility, autonomy or prestige?
  • What have you learned in both tangible and intangible skills that add value to your employer?
  • When was the last time you stretched yourself on a work project?
  • Check the salary calculator and see if you are on track to the retirement you want

Understanding the progress you are making can help you refine how you work towards your goals. It can also demonstrate you are listening and growing in your current role.

Review your life outside work

We often forget to stop and think about our performance in life as we hurry to get one foot down in front of the other. Yet sitting back for a moment and taking stock of the year can help identify areas of improvement as well as help with goal setting.

Think about the kinds of life aspects that matter to you:

  • Are you enjoying your friendships and relationships?
  • What would you improve in your connections with others in your family, friendship circles and wider community?
  • When was the last time you enriched your mind with a new skill or creative venture?
  • How is your health and exercise regime? Are there any areas where you’d like to improve?
  • What are your goals in the short and medium term? Have you worked towards them this year?
  • How regular is your self-care? Are there areas you could improve in terms of stress reduction?

Maintaining health, happiness and strong relationships can help us grow resilience while also giving us the foundation for taking on new challenges.

Practise self-compassion

Sometimes, we allow ourselves to become so close to the micro aspects of life that we forget the bigger picture. That’s why it’s important to take a step back and look at where we are in terms of our attitude.

When we’re frustrated, feeling under-valued, overworked or generally feeling unsupported, this can translate into defeatist attitudes. Common displays of these attitudes include cynicism, shying away from challenges, avoiding confrontation, absenting ourselves from work or social life and more.

We all take knocks. Life can be a tough mistress who is unforgiving. And the tiny pieces of our strength and resilience can be chipped away.

One of the best ways to review how we are doing is to focus on self-compassion. Looking for those moments of kindness in our life helps reconnect us. It can also help refill the tank when you face your toughest challenges.

You can review how you are tracking with self-compassion by:

  • Checking in to see how many of your basic needs you are meeting and haven’t fallen by the wayside in the crush to get your career moving- e.g. proper sleep, nutrition, exercise – and take care of your basic needs
  • Listening to your self-talk – are you saying you can or you can’t take on the next challenge? Are the voices cheering you on or niggling you with doubt? Move away from judgement and towards giving yourself motivation instead of admonishment
  • Staying present as opposed to ruminating. Are you able to let things go and practise a little c’est la vie or are you caught in over-identifying with your pain and suffering? Notice your thoughts and stay grounded in the way you express and experience emotion
  • Connecting when times get tough. Instead of carrying the load yourself and struggling to move, can you be vulnerable and truthful with yourself and others when it matters? Can you reach out and ask for help?

Being able to give yourself time and space to practise self-compassion helps on so many levels. It will centre your emotional core. It can give you the ability to make and face tough decisions. And remain competitive without being caught up needlessly in self-sabotage or the petty politics of working life.

Spring clean your resume and interview skills

You may not be interested in a new job, but one of the best ways to see your capabilities in black and white is to review your CV. Take the time to update your information while a year’s worth of projects, goals and achievements are fresh in your mind.

While you’re at it, look at your interview skills. If it’s been a while between formal interview situations, perhaps it’s time to check in and wipe the dust off the skills. I can help you with your interview skills for a new job – or for those times when pitching helps get you to where you need to be.

The more you understand your abilities and can articulate your value, the better able you are to pitch yourself to others. In a workplace, we pitch ourselves all the time when our career is progressing. It happens in meetings on the idea level right through to advocating for change, asking for promotions and commanding special projects.

Think about the sorts of areas where you would like to finesse your pitching skills and practise them. You never know when they’ll come in handy!

Want more advice on how to spring clean your career and make your dreams a reality? Get in touch now.

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