A couple of weeks ago I laid out 13 tips for wrapping up 2013 and preparing for the new year at work. My expert sources suggested that you complete outstanding projects, establish new goals, reflect on accomplishments, get organized and tie up loose ends–among other things.
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Now, as you return to the office in 2014, there are a few things you can do to ensure you start the year off right.
“A new year is a brand new beginning,” says Anna Sidana, the vice president of corporate marketing at BrightEdge. “If we take the time to step back from our day-to-day and hit reset, it is a chance to look ahead with a new perspective and make every day count.”
She suggests you take a moment to reflect on your life–both professional and personal–and kick off the new year with renewed energy and a fresh focus. “Close out any small, nagging projects and focus on the big ones that can accelerate your career. Reach out to colleagues and strengthen those dusty relationships. A new year offers this unique opportunity to step up the game and become laser focused.”
Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, agrees. “Of course, you can set out to reinvigorate your career any time of year, but the new year somehow provides momentum that can be harder to find once you get back to the grind.”
She says now is a great time to reflect on where you are in your professional life, how you’ve gotten there and where you want to go–and then how to achieve it. “Your friends and family are probably doing something similar in their lives and you can use each other’s energy and enthusiasm to stay committed to your goals.”
Why is it so important to start the year off right?
Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, star of MTV’s Hired! and author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad, says whatever you do at work now sets the tone for the year ahead. “Start 2014 knowing your goals and how to get there. Make every day have purpose.”
Michael D. Brown, a career consultant, author and motivational speaker, adds: “In this continuing economic tsunami of 2014, you must be clearly purposed and focused on success with a well-defined and proven game plan to transition yourself from a generic to a fresh and powerful personal brand,” he says. Companies and organizations can no longer afford to invest in generic employees with anemic or non-existent ROIs; and they’re not able to be competitive if they don’t have a fresh, branded and competitive workforce.
“The best success navigation plan you can have is to turn yourself into a clear, compelling, and competitive personal brand,” Brown says. “You can’t wait to do this in August; you must do this now. As such, you will be seen as someone who can add and deliver value in these turbulent times.”
Here are 10 ways to start the year off right at work:
Review the past year. “Oftentimes we forget to recognize our own successes before moving on to the next big thing,” Sidana says. Think about what worked for you in 2013 and what did not, then start thinking about what you’d like to do differently in 2014.
Set goals for the new year. You might have thought about new goals at the end of 2013–but as you return to the office this year, really think about where you ultimately want to be in your career and set a plan that will get you there, Kahn says.
“These goals can be small or large, and should include whatever is most important to you, like getting a raise or promotion, taking on new tasks, learning new skills, becoming certified, or even finding a new job or making a career change,” says Sutton Fell. “With each of these, include the smaller steps that it will take to get you to these goals so you have a roadmap for how to achieve them.”
Try for unconventional benefits at work. As the economy improves, companies will be looking for ways to retain their top talent, so try asking for a benefit that you might not have considered before, like a flexible schedule or the option to telecommute, Sutton Fell says.
Reinforce your network. “Check in with your close clients and co-workers to let them know you’re back from vacation, and catch up on how they spent their holidays,” Kahn says. “If you missed the opportunity to send out holiday cards, consider sending out New Year’s greetings.”
Be crystal clear on your priorities. “This will help in decision making when conflicting demands are made of your time and energies,” Sidana says.
Learn to omit the negative and be positive. “Omitting the negative means learning from the inevitable negative experiences you will encounter without dwelling on them or letting them consume the valuable real estate in your head,” Brown says. “The air these days is full of negativity and pessimism, and others who have given up in the face of difficult times will do their best to drag you to their level. Remember, tough times do not last; tough people do.”
Jump back in. If you’re lucky, you were able to take a vacation and spend time with loved ones over the holidays. “Now it’s time to come back energized and focused,” Kahn says. “Use the first few days to follow up on all missed messages and start taking action on reaching your 2014 career goals.”
Do an audit of your current job. Sutton Fell suggests you ask yourself: What do I love about my job? What would I change if I could? What are my road bumps or bottlenecks? How can those be eliminated or improved? What are my goals for 2014?
Try to enhance your brand so that it stays fresh. “In this era of constant innovation and technological advancement, everyone is now on ‘Internet time,’ even when they are offline,” Brown says. “If your brand is on ‘analog time,’ it will be perceived as stale, and nobody likes stale. You can’t have payphone skills for a smart phone world.”
Create an e-mail folder to capture your accomplishments. Take the time now to create your own way to track your successes to make them easily at hand and top of mind, Kahn says. “This will make you prepared for any performance reviews and is a great way to reflect on your progress.”
“If you’re satisfied looking back at your career in 2013, you might enter 2014 on a good trajectory and be tempted to sit tight,” Sutton Fell says. “But whether you’re satisfied in your career or looking for something better, make the new year a year of action. You can build your relationship network, learn new skills or really master the ones you have, join professional associations, or find a mentor. Whatever it is, seize the day and it will set you up for more success now and in years ahead.”
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