The biggest enemy of progress is “busy” – as in “I’m too busy to do this.” Busy never stops and will never go away. It will be waiting for you. And as we often write about – YOU are responsible for your career, not your boss, spouse, or parents.
Please take a few minutes to put some of these things on your calendar now – otherwise busy will take over it will be 2020 and none of them will have happened.
Now is the time of year to do it – as several of these best-practices involve planning and money on both you and your employer’s part. Most companies are working on their budgets right now, and you are more likely to get them to pay for it if you get it in the budget.
Resume Review – Twice a year, you should pull your resume out and dust it off. It will keep it current with recent projects and accomplishments. If you suddenly get laid off or have a job opportunity pop up, you won’t have to try to remember years’ worth of stuff to put on it. It can also be a good self-check on if you are growing your career or not. Pro-tip: If you have a relationship with a recruiter like me, send them an updated copy.
Networking events – Job seekers we work with universally neglect their networks until they find themselves in job transition. Find a recurring event, group, or activity that will force you to meet people outside of your normal circles. It could be a local chapter of professional group like Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) that has monthly events (put them on your calendar), weekly Meet-ups of similar interests like a coding language (meetup.com), or civic organizations like Rotary Clubs. Many managers will give you the time off or even pay for dues if you can make the case that it will make you a better employee.
Trade Shows or Professional Conventions – Like networking events, trade shows or professional conventions on a regional or national basis are where you can go meet new vendors, prospective employers, and attend talks and workshops to make you better at your profession. If it’s a trade show and your company regularly has a booth, volunteer to help staff the booth in exchange for getting to go. Pretty much all the big events already have pricing and websites up for 2019. Find ones you want to attend and ask for your company to pay for it.
Network Meals – Put a recurring lunch on your calendar, either weekly or monthly, to have breakfast, lunch, cocktails or dinner with someone from your company that is not in your work group or someone who is in your network that you want to keep up with. You can strengthen your internal and external networks.
Mentor Meetings – if you have a mentor or a mentee – put a monthly meeting on both of your calendars and hold each other accountable for making the meetings and making them productive. If you would like to be mentored or become a mentor for someone in your company, ask your manager now or in your next performance review. It is a power-move and a hedge from your boss keeping you a secret from the rest of the company.
Informal Performance Reviews – I’ve never been a fan of formal performance reviews – A significant amount of companies either don’t do them, or don’t do them well. It just becomes a check-in-the-box task with little value for either party. That said, you need to know how you are performing, as well as get your manager to work for you – to hold them accountable for things you need to advance your career. For example, “Remember when you said you’d help find me a mentor, what is the status of that?”
Training Time – Put time on your calendar to learn new things. It could be formal training, like a leadership class, or informal training, like reading books. It could be on company time or your personal time. If the next level in your career involves taking a master class, ask your boss when that can be scheduled. Great companies invest in training their people. Great managers invest in training their people, even if it means losing them to promotion or to another company. If your company/boss does neither, either find a new job or take it upon yourself.
Formal education – Have you been promising that someday you will go to grad school? Or someday finish your degree? Ain’t gonna happen unless you get started. Look into when a school has an information night or make an appointment with admissions. Put dates for the GRE on your calendar. Look into what tuition, if any, your company will pay for and what the restrictions or pay-back rules are. Get your manager to sign off on it before you enroll.
Exercise time - Finding time to exercise is a challenge for most – but staying or getting fit and healthy is critical to your professional success. Find the time you are most successful in sticking to and put it on your calendar, even if it’s 5:00 in the morning. You can also try to combine some of the things on this list with a workout – like going for a run with your mentor or a round of golf with your network connections.
Vacations – Vacation is important to your work performance. It recharges your batteries, spurs creativity, and can keep your personal life in balance. Making plans now, even if it’s only a save the date if you don’t know the destination, can prevent stress on you and your team. It also communicates to your manager that you are considerate and a forward thinker. (And prevents you having to cancel your plans because too many people are out of the office – you called it first.)
A little planning can go a long way to being successful inn your career – if you follow your plan. If you let the crisis-of-the-day take over, you will never get ahead. Remember, you are the director, writer, and star of your life story. Don’t settle for being a supporting player in someone else’s.
Thanks for reading. We appreciate your feedback, comments or kindly sharing with your networks on social media.
If you need guidance on figuring out what’s next for your career, the Rivet Group has a great team of coaches that can help. We’d love to hear from you. Let us know how we can help!