After college, you start every year with a blank slate. Now instead of coursework, it’s time to anticipate what you will accomplish in your career in the next 12 months.
Many of us resolve to be better at what we do, especially in the workplace. If that’s the case for you, here are a few simple resolutions that will help you grow as a new professional.
1. I will learn my job – all of it.
We have a tendency to focus on doing the stuff that we are naturally good at, we like, and find easy to do.
What are the more challenging parts of your job that you avoid, and what can you do to focus on them this year?
Maybe you need to learn more about your company’s products. Maybe you need to enhance your technical or industry knowledge. Perhaps a better understanding of the organization’s financials would enhance your career or job satisfaction.
What’s the part of your job you’d like to ignore, but really shouldn’t? Set some goals for improving in those areas, and identify what steps you can take to do so.
2. I will practice the stuff I don’t like doing.
Do you dread facilitating meetings, dealing with the annoying guy in marketing, or handling an issue for an angry customer? Resolve not just to tolerate those things, but to tackle them with gusto! Let your boss know these are things you need – and want – to work on.
Look back at the past year, determine what your rough edges were, and put those on the list for polishing in 2012. This is a great way to take initiative in managing your own development!
3. I will keep trying, even when I fail.
So you tried to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker, and it didn’t go so well. Or you didn’t close the first sale? Try again. And again. And one more time, if necessary. There is no substitute for experience. Each time you’ll improve. Taking more shots gives you the experience to see what works and what doesn’t. Then you get better. That builds skill, and confidence.
Whatever scared you off last year, regroup, ask for feedback and plan new approaches with what you’ve learned.
4. I will not be limited by where I am.
Not in your dream job? It’s OK. (Is there a dream job?) In nearly any situation you must find ways to develop, learn, grow.
I challenge you to find skills that you want to learn, knowledge you want to acquire, and experience you want to gain in this coming year.
It’s possible your learning may come from your job, but it will never be the only source. Explore outside your job (volunteer work, leadership, classes, joining groups, networking) as well.
Identify three key areas of skill, knowledge or experience where you’d like to expand in 2012, and determine the steps you can take to acquire those self enhancements.
5. I will take weekly stock of my progress and learning.
If you were a business, you would take some kind of weekly inventory. It’s how you take stock of your assets and determine the value of your business. Doing so tells you where you are on the road map, versus where you should be.
Well, in a way, you ARE a business! Aren’t we all kind of self-employed, contracting with our employers?
Conduct a “weekly recall” to document your progress an ongoing basis.
Set aside an hour of personal time on the same day each week to block off your calendar and reflect on the week. Document what you are noticing. This makes it easy to see how you are making progress and adding value, and where you need to course correct.
DOWNLOAD this! My Weekly Recall Template provides a quick and easy format to inventory what’s happening in your work. Keep your notes in a binder or folder so you’ll have them to review at year end.
6. I will not give up without a fight, er … strongly advocating for what I need in the workplace.
It was recently reported that nearly 70% of GenYer’s depart their first job in two years. An entire industry has cropped up to teach companies how to deal with Gen Yer’s in the workplace. Clearly organizations have some work to do here.
If you’re tempted to run because you’re frustrated by the organization that employs you, however, consider this: as a young professional you have an unprecedented opportunity to change that organization from the inside, from the ground up.
Rather than flee, I encourage you to advocate for what you need from your manager, your team, and your organization (professionally and respectfully, of course). You have such an opportunity to lead from where you are, like no generation before you!
Easy? No, of course not. But nothing worth it ever is. However, learning to advocate for yourself in the workplace will give you practice in skills and efficacy in self leadership that will serve you well throughout your career.
So before you leap, look at what options you really have to make a difference.