what better time to kick your career into high gear than the start of a brand new year?

a woman working in her office desk smiling brightly while looking to the left
a woman working in her office desk smiling brightly while looking to the left

The secret to success is in the planning, and as the year begins, there’s still time to plan your way to a successful 2021, both personally and professionally. Change is a marathon, not a sprint.

Meaningful, sustainable change is a series of small, manageable steps that, added up, take you where you want to be. But first, you need to know what you want and where you want to go in order to get there.

start with reflection

Start your planning by evaluating your progress thus far. Start with big-picture thinking, and then drill down to the details. Think about the successes and the less-than-great experiences you’ve had and what you learned from them. What skills have you used most frequently?

What skills do you want to gain in the New Year?

Consider your values – what’s really important to you in your work and your life? Is there room for growth in your current organisation or is a new position with a new employer in the cards? Make a list of roles within your organisation you’d consider moving into or start looking for new positions outside the organisation that align with your goals, skills, and values.

update your branding

Whether you’re staying put or moving on, update your resume and all your social media profiles. Now’s the perfect time to refresh your photos and ensure they reflect 2021 you, especially if they haven’t been changed in a few years.

Make sure they not only reflect who you are but where you want to go next. Anything that describes you has to have the same, consistent message and keywords.

give networking a try

Okay, okay, we know. Networking is rarely fun. But hear us out. In our current work landscape, who you know is as important as what you know. Add to your plan the names of people you know as well as those people you’d like to make contact with and include in your network. Find out who the key players and decision-makers are in the departments and organisations you’re setting your sights on and make contact with them.

The New Year is a great time to meet with them, and find out about their organisations, roles and the qualities they’re looking for in successful candidates – an important first step in your climb up the ladder.

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focus on learning

If you plan on staying in your current role, become the subject matter expert, the person others turn to when they need to know anything about the job. Source conferences, organisations, and seminars and add them to your calendar.

You’ll not only find yourself re-inspired in your current role, but you’ll be enhancing your personal brand as well. You’ll position yourself as the go-to person, an ideal mentor and guide for others in the organisation. And you’ll have more impetus for extending your reach professionally.

clean up your workspace

Harness the motivation of the New Year to clean house and prepare for 2021. Empty your email inbox, delete files that are no longer relevant and archive the ones you’ll need. Organise your desk, and update your materials and your professional and personal files.

At home, update your work wardrobe. Clean your drawers and closets so you’ll know what you have and what you need to work through the year in style. Make sure everything you keep is clean and in good repair.

adopt healthy habits

Okay, we admit, this one might be easier said than done. But, hey, the New Year is the perfect time for self-improvement. If going all-in on healthier habits doesn’t seem feasible, make stepping stone goals. Increase the amount of sleep you’re getting in 15-minute intervals. Add one more veggie to each meal so that extra holiday weight doesn’t stick around and so you have the energy to tackle new challenges. Notice we didn’t advise you to start a diet; instead, make small changes and gradually build on your success. Think health, not numbers on a scale.

If you haven’t had a physical or dental exam in a long time, book an appointment. Get your eyes checked. You want to be healthy for yourself, your family and the people who care about you, as well as for your career.

Remember, we’re all remaining in the work world longer these days; we can only do that if we’re enjoying optimal health.

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