10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Career

Practical resolutions that will help kick-start your career in 2011.

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A fresh new year awaits us. What better time to take stock of our careers? Last week’s post talked about looking backwards—how to conduct your own year-end career review —so this week we’re looking ahead.

When considering resolutions for 2011, try starting with these:

1. Stop procrastinating. Across the board—stop putting things off. Start with the small things. You’ll be amazed at how much simpler and more fluid your life becomes. Procrastination is a thief of time. You can’t build a life on what you’re “going to do.”

[See 5 Steps to Breaking Bad Work Habits.]

2. Join a new group. A large network is the key to career success and the way to build a large network is to be constantly meeting new people. So this year, join your trade or professional association, sign up for Toastmasters, volunteer for your church choir, or get involved in your local government or your favorite charity. It doesn’t matter what group you join. Just join one.

3. Learn a new skill. Not only will brushing up on your expertise do wonders for your job security—or, if you’re looking for a job, your employability—it’s also a great mental boost. Our minds are happiest when they are growing.

4. Set a goal. This is different from putting together a comprehensive long-range life or career plan. That’s difficult, and many of us never even get started. Instead, simply identify one single goal and then work toward it. Doesn’t that seem much more doable?

5. Read. Specifically, read about your business or industry. Seek an “outsider” view if possible. The more you know about your field, the more interesting it will become to you, and the more valuable you are as a contributor. A simple Google search will get you started.

6. Get a mentor. We all need someone to make suggestions, give advice, listen to our ideas and fears, tell us when we’ve gone off track, and give us a kick in the behind when we need it. In fact, you may want to have more than one mentor. Have a handful and call them your own personal Board of Directors.

7. Save money. Nothing is more important to your security and future than having money set aside. If you’re already saving, save a bit more. If you’re not saving at all, start today. Seriously. Don’t even wait for January 1st. Start saving now.

[See 50 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2011.]

8. Improve your people skills. All jobs involve working with people. No matter how amazing you are at your job, if you can’t get along with others, you will have real problems succeeding. So this year, vow to listen a little more, talk a little less, and give your colleagues, bosses, customers, and clients the benefit of the doubt.

9. Volunteer for something. Want to instantly feel better about yourself and your life? Give some of your time and energy away. Whether you’re organizing the blood drive at your workplace or cleaning up the local park, volunteering is good for you, personally and professionally.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]

10. Share these resolutions with someone. Like your mentors. A colleague or family member will work, too. Making yourself accountable for your resolutions exponentially increases the likelihood you’ll keep them.

What? You’re one of those people who never makes resolutions? Consider these ideas anyway. Inspiration often lies in wait where you least expect it.

Out with the old, in with the new! Happy New Year.

Karen Burns is the author of the illustrated career advice book The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, recently released by Running Press. She blogs at www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.

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