IT IS the beginning of a new year, and, for many professionals, that means making career resolutions. Unfortunately, as earnest as some people may be when it comes to reaching goals they have set, their resolutions are not as motivating as they were intended to be and are soon forgotten.
If this has happened to you, it may be because you are making the wrong resolutions, thus setting yourself up for failure before you even start.
Here are a few examples of resolutions to avoid this year:
1. “I resolve to do better work.”
Although a noble goal, the problem with this resolution is that it is too vague. Doing better work can mean many different things, from enhancing your industry expertise, to improving your time management skills, to putting more energy into your assignments.
This type of uncertainty can prevent you from making any real progress. That is why it is important to set measurable objectives. For example, “I resolve to read one industry publication per week” or “Before turning in my work, I will review it thoroughly so I do not let any errors slip through”, are much more feasible promises to make.
2. “I resolve to earn a raise.”
This is a resolution many people can relate to. After all, most professionals have probably wished for higher pay at some point in their careers. Unfortunately, you do not always have control over the outcome of this objective. In addition, with the economy still largely uncertain, a raise may even be an unrealistic expectation, depending on how your company is doing financially.
It is better to set goals you can control. For example, you might resolve to learn a software programme you plan to use more frequently at work. In this case, you are the only person who has a say in the final outcome, making it more likely that you will reach your goal. The more training you complete to improve your skills set, the better the case you can make for earning more money.
3. “I resolve to do X, Y, Z and…”
This is like visiting a buffet and filling your plate to the brim. You are hungry and think you will be able to eat everything, at least initially. But it is likely you will not touch a good portion of the food you grabbed.
By setting a lot of goals, you may spread yourself too thin and have trouble accomplishing all of your objectives. The key is to choose one or two resolutions and focus on those alone. With fewer ancillary targets to distract yourself, you will have a better chance of accomplishing your objectives. Once you reach those goals, you can select new ones to work on.
4. “I resolve to land the corner office.”
Depending on what position you currently hold, you may be setting your sights too high. Yes, you want to make resolutions that challenge you to stretch your abilities, but you also want to pursue objectives that you can realistically accomplish.
A more appropriate target is to work with your manager and establish a plan for your career progression. While you may not take over his or her job — or even earn a promotion — in the year ahead, you will take steps to move your career forward.
5. “I resolve to bring my lunch to work to save money.”
This is an excellent personal resolution, but career resolutions should focus on your job growth. Ideally, they should be goals that will allow you to eventually take on new assignments, tackle new challenges and improve your marketability.
Finally, once you decide on a resolution, it is important to set a deadline for accomplishing the goal. Having a specific time frame in mind will help you narrow your focus and give you additional motivation to achieve your objective.
Whether your deadline is a week, month or a year away, maintain a “status report” so you can continuously see how you are progressing and determine if you need to revise the target date or the goal itself.
By making the right career resolutions and keeping them high on your priorities list, you will improve your chances of accomplishing them and moving forward professionally as a result.