How to make 2014 your career year: A seven-point plan

Many of us are returning to work today for the first time in 2014, refreshed and ready to make a clean start by believing we’ll handle the next 12 months differently to how we handled the last.

You can diet your way to your perfect you, believe you’re going to be a better parent, friend, daughter, wife, girlfriend — or any other variation of yourself — or you can get practical and make 2014 a great year for you and all those around you by simply focusing on your career.

So how would you do that?

First, it helps to think about what you had hoped to achieve this time last year and why 2013 didn’t pan out the way you wanted.

And then move on. How could 2014 be your career year? Will it be by acquiring more responsibility, giving that big idea or a go, or seeking better work/life balance? Could it happen by finally pursuing work you believe you’ll find more personally satisfying and fulfilling? Perhaps it’s all about a new job, new industry, new promotion or hitting a new pay scale?

No matter what it is that will make 2014 your career year, the following seven-point plan will provide a great kickstart.

  1. Consider what happened in 2013 that prevented you from reaching your career goals. Something stopped you from achieving your career goals and this is your chance to get honest with yourself and write each obstacle down. Include those obstacles you could have avoided, or at least navigated around, and those that were well beyond your control.
  2. Write a detailed plan for how you COULD have overcome each of your 2013 career obstacles. Perhaps more training and education may have helped, or a stronger network of support from family, friends and colleagues. Maybe more personal resilience or flexibility could have enabled you to manage it better.
  3. Determine your ultimate 2014 career ambition. Make it realistic and doable within a 12-month timeframe, but big enough that it’ll keep you on your toes throughout the year and have you feeling personally satisfied at the end of it all. But most important of all, get to one great career goal — something you can easily sum up within half a sentence. This is the where you want to be by the end of the year, keeping you focused on everything leading up to it.
  4. Now, get detailed on the smaller goals. These are the small wins you’ll need to reach your ultimate ambition: the points on the map you’ll have to pass on your way to your ideal destination. Make the list as long as needed, allowing your future self to tick off on plenty of achievements that occur throughout the year.
  5. Determine where previous hurdles may get in the way of your small goals. Align what went wrong in 2013 with what you have planned for 2014 and consider what could go wrong again. What can you do to prepare for such challenges? Should you change your small goals and come up with a different map for getting what you want?
  6. Diarise your way to that ultimate ambition. This is the easy part. You know the small goals you’ll need to tick off, the challenges that may get in the way and the fact you have 12 months to reach your career destination. Now set yourself enough tasks, every month, to make it happen. The more detailed the better — a weekly goal is a great way to keep you focused throughout the year.
  7. Celebrate what you have achieved previously and drink to it! The drink is optional — you may prefer cake or a dip in the ocean — do whatever it is that allows you to enjoy yourself while you sit back and reflect. Acknowledging what you did achieve in 2013, no matter how small, is a great reminder of the potential you have, and why you can do even better in 2014. 

Want to celebrate your achievements from 2013? Enter yourself in the NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards. Nominations are extended until 23 January.

This article first appeared on Women’s Agenda.

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