Career Review: Look Back but Move Forward

In terms of your ongoing career success, it’s great to look back over the past–just don’t live there. At this time of year, when so many people are preparing to wind some things down and get ready for the new year, you might want to take a look at what has gone right for you this year and what hasn’t. That’s fine. A periodic career review can provide beneficial insights that enable you to move forward. But your next step should be to think about what that means for the coming year and jettison anything that doesn’t have potential to be useful for your career advancement in the future.

In other words, don’t carry excess baggage into the new year. When you take too much baggage on an airplane, you get dinged $$$ for the excess. With regard to your career, hanging on to memories or experiences that won’t help you progress brings its own penalty. It can keep you focused on the wrong aspects of your career and stall or derail your advancement.

Set Goals, Not New Year’s Resolutions

Resolution: “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”
Goal: “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.”

What I noticed about the definition of “resolution” was that it refers to a decision, not a plan of action, although it’s described as a firm decision. On the other hand, the definition of “goal” indicates that effort is being expended toward the target outcome. That suggests that one possible reason so many New Year’s resolutions fail is that there was no plan and no accompanying effort to achieve them.

What does this mean for you and your year-end career review? For starters, you can focus more on setting goals and matching those with the actions needed to help you get there and less on the “I would love to be [whatever your desired outcome is] next year” (aka wishful thinking, which sometimes masquerades as a resolution).

Career Progress Through Change, Not Chance

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” (Jim Rohn)

While you’re engaged in your year-end career review, you might want to keep Rohn’s quote in mind. If you fall into the trap of living in the past and hoping something will happen to make the next year better, you’re counting on chance, which at best provides uncertain support. Instead, you can create a vision that builds challenging but achievable goals into the picture and develop an action plan to change whatever you have determined needs to change in order for you to achieve real, sustainable career progress.

Now that’s worth doing!

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