It's another December and you're ready to kick back for a few days sipping eggnog and sampling confectionery delights.
Now is the perfect time to reflect on the past year, especially as it relates to your job. Really now, how is your career going? Here are 10 New Year resolutions to help you stay sharp.
1) Pay attention in class.
Treat every day at work like a school day. Be sure you learn something and make yourself more productive by what you've learned. It doesn't have to be skill-set related. It may be as simple as understanding how to work with specific peers (emotional intelligence). Whatever you do, take mental notes. Don't go through the day like a sleepy zombie.
2) Look for the next rung.
You need to excel at your job. This is how you gain credibility. But the key to career happiness is to understand your next step. Career pathing is critical if you're to remain engaged on the job. Be sure to schedule discussions with your manager to get clarity on the next challenge. If it's not going to happen for you on your specific team or in your company, it may be time to look elsewhere.
3) Understand company goals.
Make sure you understand how your job contributes to your company's business objectives. Are you in a revenue-generating role? A brand awareness role? Is your mission to delight the customer? Clarity on how your job fits into the big picture will give you inspiration and a sense of accomplishment -- and will make your "small successes" feel like you're making much more of an impact.
4) Be ethical.
Bring integrity to your job. Whether you're running the company or cleaning the bathrooms, be honest in all you do. Don't call in sick just to get a day off. That's stealing. Put in an honest day's work. Be accountable. If you're working remotely, be sure you're working. Do what you say you're going to do. Be on time. Honesty and reliability mean a lot to your manager.
5) Stay fit.
OK, this is probably already on your New Year resolution list. But that's because it's so important. Exercise. Try to break a sweat for 20 minutes, three days a week. Go for a walk at lunch. Join a gym. Lift weights. Go for a run. A healthy body makes a healthy mind. Exercising increases blood flow to the brain. It gives you ideas. You'll be more productive at work. Best of all, you'll feel great.
6) Stretch your role.
From time to time, think how you can go above and beyond. Are there projects outside of your defined role that you could help with? Be proactive and ask to join. Better yet, come up with your own ideas and work with your manager to implement them. If you're a hamster, step off the wheel and poke your head out of the top of the cage. Stretch a little. This won't go unnoticed.
7) Manage up.
Make sure you and your manager are in firm agreement on what you're doing. Be proactive and get on his or her calendar to ensure you're meeting or exceeding expectations. Don't assume your manager is paying close attention. There are bad managers. If there's a disconnect between what you're doing and your manager's expectations, you're part of the blame. Don't wait until review time. Why take this chance?
8) Manage Across.
Your colleagues are important. Even if you're in a role where you work primarily alone, be sure to make time to understand your peer's roles and how they go about their job. Show an interest. Don't just choose a few friends and become part of a clique. High school is over. Be friendly and courteous to all workers in your organization. You never know when you may need them. Or be reporting to them.
Don't leave people waiting for answers. If you're in an e-mail environment, return e-mails promptly. Let people know what you're doing. If you're working on a project, always ask yourself who needs to know about this. Then tell them. Talk to people. Give people the heads up. And when someone helps you out, be sure to thank them. It's amazing that this even needs to be on a list but bad communicators are everywhere. Don't be one of them.
10) Make time for play.
Have fun. Work hard (see Nos. 1 and 4), but smile while you're doing it. No one likes a Grinch (especially this time of year). This doesn't mean disrupting the workplace by acting like an eighth-grader. Instead, approach each day with a positive spirit and stay loose. When you leave the office, have some fun. Enjoy your family and friends. Make time for them. Make time for you. It's called work-life balance. All work and no play makes ... well, you know.