Now that you’ve survived Doomsday 2012 and the holidays are winding down to a close, it’s time to come to terms with the impending four digits on the horizon: 2013. The end of one year and the start of another is the perfect time to reassess where you currently are in life—and where you want to go. As a larger unit of time, a year is the perfect backdrop against which to gain a holistic perspective of your goals, dreams and happiness. Your career, as a significant part of your life, deserves due attention in this process. Here are some things to think about.
Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
Are your dreams still in your head or are you slowly inching closer towards them? A year is a long time, but it can be broken up into chunks of months, weeks and days. What steps can you take in the next year that will propel you closer to your eventual career goals? Break them up into smaller steps which you can achieve on a daily, monthly or weekly basis. Devoting yourself to smaller, more manageable goals that are easier and less intimidating to achieve will add up by the end of the year. If you’ve realized that school is in your future, start planning now. Make a calendar to mark both external deadlines, like application due dates, and personal deadlines, such as the dates by which you want to collect all your references and complete drafts and final versions of personal statements. If you’re considering a career switch, make a goal of scouring job sites every day and sending off a certain number of applications each week in your desired field. If you want to move up in your current company, think about ways you can improve your performance at work. Maybe there’s a new project you’d like to spearhead, but in order to get there, you’ll have to spend more time planning meetings and organizing documents.
Learn from the Past
What mistakes have you made in the past year? Sent off a resume or cover letter only to spot a typo two seconds later? Not spent enough time preparing for an interview and been caught off-guard by a difficult question? Incorporate these into your new year’s resolutions. You can learn from your past mistakes and make a conscious effort to not repeat them again this year. So proofread that resume like your livelihood depends on it (which it certainly can) and prepare for that interview so thoroughly that your interviewers will think they know less about their company than you do.
Objectively consider the past year in its entirety. When were you happiest? Did you enjoy writing press releases but hate sales meetings? Looking back at the work you liked or didn’t like over the span of a year can give you some insight into what you want in a career and the types of tasks that utilize your natural skills. Also, take a good look at how this past year of work affected you. Did you feel the year was well-spent or wasted? Did you feel satisfied and in the right place, or were you restless with somewhere else you were longing to be? If you’re in the right place, congratulations! If not, take the time to do some soul-searching and try to figure out what that place you’d rather be is—and how you want to get there.
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with not only the people, but also the things in your life that are important to you. What do you relish doing in your time off? Can that translate over into your work? For example, if the highlight of your holiday season is making cards and crafts for loved ones, you may crave more creative outlets at work. If you choose to spend the extra time volunteering at the local soup kitchen, you may want to get involved with company charity or service events. Another thing to ask yourself: why do I love my time off (besides the obvious)? Do you feel it’s a well-earned break from the hard work and energy you pour into your job? Or do you feel it’s a god-given savior from the hell of the workweek? Thinking along the lines of the former is a good sign; if you’re more in line with the latter you might want to reconsider your current job.
Work—And Everything Else
Though your career is an important part of your life, it’s still just that—only part of your life. And as part of your life, it should ideally be in balance with and complement other aspects of your life. How did your job fit in with your overall life in the past year? Was it in conflict with other important things, like family, friends and personal pursuits and goals? Did it overpower them in terms of time and energy? Or did you find that your career was in alignment with your life as a whole, a piece that fit neatly into a satisfying puzzle?
Taking the time and effort to evaluate the past year can have a big pay off in the next; looking back at 2012 will help you move forward in 2013. Good luck and happy new year!