For many of us, the end of the year is an opportunity for reflection about the past 12 months. It’s a great time to look at what went well in your career and what you might like to change. Here are four questions to ask to determine the health of your career.
When you look back on this year, do you feel like you made progress in your job? Was there at least one project you were challenged by and proud of finishing? Did at least one idea of yours move from concept to execution? Do you feel that your reputation in the company, your community, your industry, moved up a notch? If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, you may be in a rut. There is no such thing as standing still; you are either moving forward or falling behind. If you’re not sure about the answers to the questions above, resolve to schedule a meeting with your manager to get insight.
Did you learn a new skill? You might have taken an online course, improved your public speaking or writing, or mastered new technology. Or, you might have learned nothing new this year. That’s a danger sign for your career; it signals that you’ve lost your sense of curiosity about the work you do, and it’s a precursor to burnout. Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast, says that learning new skills is itself a skill to be mastered. You don’t need to become a master; he says “put in as little as 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice, and you’ll easily outperform 99% of the human population.” Learning new skills builds confidence in all areas of your life, and it’s essential to remaining engaged and interested in your career. Resolve to take charge of learning something new this year.
Did you take a risk? As you look back, did you feel safe and cocooned in your job? Or did you step out of your job description and volunteer for something new? Resolve to try something that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you’re usually the follower, volunteer to lead. If you’re usually the leader, step outside the company and serve under someone smarter than you – someone you can learn from. Commit to reaching out to at least three new quality connections this year – start a Greenfield friendship. Be the first to ask a question in the workshop. If it feels a little uncomfortable, that’s a good start. If your heart is pounding, that’s a great start.
Did you make a difference in someone else’s career or life? You can make a difference inside your company by championing someone you believe is worthy of notice. Offer them advice, connections or a place on a project team or volunteer organization. Bring their skills, energy, or attitude to the attention of someone who needs help or who is in a position to help advance their career. Or, choose to use your skills in the community to improve the lives of others. Volunteer, donate, or promote a cause. Resolve to make a ripple in your community (however you choose to define it.)
Here’s hoping 2023 is your breakout year.