Where did this year go? I’ve heard many just lately ask this question, with Christmas and another new year just around the corner. Time goes by so fast.
If you’re feeling the year has passed you by without achieving some of what you’d hoped or planned for, it’s not too late. There are still some things you can do before the end of the year to manage your career.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK
Feedback is a gift, and if you’re not getting enough of it, it’s okay to ask for it. If you’re not sure how you’re doing, or if you want to validate your thinking, ask your manager to meet with you. When you approach the meeting, come prepared. How do you think you’re doing? Let your manager know what you think your strengths are, along with some of your recent accomplishments, and ask if they agree you’re on track, or if there are areas you could improve upon. Handle their feedback gracefully. Remember going in to the meeting, if you want to encourage them to share more feedback with you, how you accept the gift will be important.
Are you still waiting for someone else to tell you what you could do, or how you could develop? Stop waiting. It’s up to you. What do you want to learn that would help you do your job better? What projects, committees or responsibilities might there be that would allow you to stretch yourself and grow? What kinds of on-the-job development could help you to move closer to your career goal? Make a plan now to take action on your development. Think about small things you can do every day to focus on your growth, and then “just do it”.
READ A NEW BOOK, BUSINESS MAGAZINE OR INDUSTRY PUBLICATION
Reading is a good way to expand your knowledge, and if you discuss what you read with someone else, your knowledge retention improves. Choose something from the book or magazine to act on or apply to your work, and you take it to another level altogether. This is an example of taking charge of your development.
GET TO KNOW SOMEONE NEW AT WORK
Building a strong network at work is an important career management strategy, but so often we stick with those we know – with those in our immediate circle. Is there someone in another department you’ve never spent time with? One of my colleagues makes a point of having lunch with someone outside the department regularly. As a result, she’s built a strong network across the organization. What could you learn about your organization by taking an interest in someone outside of your circle? Don’t underestimate the power of networking in building your career.
Activities external to your work environment can give you an opportunity to build skills you don’t use in your current job – skills you can bring back with you into the work environment to help you build your career. At the same time, volunteering is a great way to give back, and at this time of year more than ever, there are many organizations that need another helping hand.
FIND A ROLE MODEL
Find someone at work that has strengths you don’t, and model their behaviour. For instance, my manager is my Myers-Briggs opposite which means we each draw on different strengths. When I need to approach something in a style outside of my natural preference or comfort zone, I can reflect on how she would handle the situation, and model her behaviour. Even better, I can talk to her about the situation and ask for her input to help me approach the situation in a new way. This is a simple but effective way you can focus on your development.
LOOK AT THINGS FROM A NEW ANGLE
Have you ever worked on something for so long that you could no longer see a detail right in front of you, only to have someone new take a look and have the detail jump off the page? When we’ve been doing the same thing for a while, we can get tunnel vision, or lose our ability to see something right in front of us. The same thing can happen in your career if you let it. Today, look at your career and at what’s happening around you with curiosity, or from another angle. You might just come up with an interesting new idea on how you can build on what you’re doing now to re-energize your career.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
It’s easy to look at the negative, or to find someone else to blame, when things aren’t going the way you hoped they would. Challenge yourself to spend the next 14 days free from negativity and blame. It’s not an easy exercise, but well worth the effort. Focus on the positive, and you’ll feel better immediately. With a new positive outlook you’ll be able to think more constructively about the choices you’ve made so far, and what you need to do to move forward in your career.
The clock is ticking. Time is moving fast…..but it’s not too late. Not if you decide to act now! Choose just two or three action items from this list and end the year feeling great about the progress you’re making!