Career Advice from The Commercial Appeal

By Jim Pawlak
Career Moves

“Happy New Career.  Every year people make New Year’s resolutions.  Every year they break more resolutions than they keep.  Why?  Keeping resolutions requires a mindset tuned to change and mental discipline, while breaking resolutions requires no effort at all.  We are what we do.  Success is a product of habit.  So is living in a humdrum rut.

Are you stuck in a career rut?  Climb out.  How?  By making a commitment to change today, and living that commitment every day.  Here are eight resolutions for a Happy New Career.  You can’t afford to break them this year, or any year, if you’re truly committed to managing your career.

  1.  Do what you are.  Make sure your written game plan targets opportunities that fit who you are and what you want to do with your worklife.  Too many people are dazzled by dollars and not the job itself.  The job, not the money, makes the difference between Monday morning and Monday moaning.
  2. Expand your skills.  Interpersonal communications heads this short list.  Achievement ties directly to communication.  Why?  No one can be successful without working with others.  Input from them helps us understand various perspectives.  Computer literacy comes next.  Become proficient at word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and contact management software.
  3. Become a time manager.  Set time aside for using the Internet and the library, networking, and keeping up with who’s who and what’s what in the things you’ve targeted.  Use a planning/productivity app, a daily planner or Outlook to keep you on track.

An organized schedule brings a disciplined approach to reaching career goals and leaves ample time to enjoy life, too.  But make sure your weekly schedule is realistic.  Doing too much will be overwhelming, too little makes you lazy.  Your goal is to ‘find’ one hour each day to spend on building the career you want.  It’s there.  Maybe it’s at lunch; maybe it’s listening to educational CDs during your commute.

  1. Be patient. Plans require time to gel. Set short-term, ‘baby-step’ objectives at first.  As you achieve these, your confidence in your plan and yourself will start to grow.

If your career plan doesn’t seem to be working, don’t give up.  Examine what’s not working and develop a different approach.

  1. Form master-mind groups. People who share your interests in various projects on which you’re working will be your biggest coaches and cheerleaders, but only if you’re candid about your plans, progress and problems. The more you talk, the more insight you’ll gain. If they know you value their input, they’ll respond with suggestions, support and constructive criticism.
  2.   Join a professional and/or an industry association. Making and maintaining contacts is a building block for every career. Associations are great forums for meeting your peers and discussing what’s happening in your field.
  3.   Read, read, read. Read the business section of the newspaper and business books.    Subscribe to industry and professional publications. Read them cover to cover. Use the information to obtain more info about companies and products in which you’re interested. Catalog the information and share it with your network.
  4. Help others.  Do volunteer work for a non-profit or a church.  I guarantee you’ll be welcome.  And they’ll be flexible about your schedule.  By helping others, you’ll help yourself.  You’ll make networking contacts, too.

Clip this column.  Review it Friday of each week, along with your written game plan, as you plan the next week’s activities.  These will remind you of the resolutions you must keep.  Remember: Changing outcomes requires changing input.”

Source:  Pawlak, J. (2017, Jan 1). Getting out of a career rut requires making changes. The Commercial Appeal. 176(1), p. 4C.


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