It’s that time of year again. A new year, in fact. That time when we make our lists. Our resolutions. Workout more. Travel to exotic places. Be more productive.

For the first month, you’re on top of it. You’re in the gym everyday after work. Or you get up at 5 AM and do it before you hit the office. During the workday, you turn off your notifications so you can truly focus. You calendar everything, even your potty breaks.

Second month, you go to the gym every other day. You decide you’ll check social media during work at specific times in the day. So you calendar that. You’re so packed in the day, you decide to skip workouts. Now you’re busy instead of productive.

Third month, you’re slipping rapidly back into last year’s bad habits. Nine months later, you’re making the same resolutions again.

After all, 80% of all New Year’s resolutions fail by February. So what can we do instead, especially if we want to grow our careers?

Forget resolutions. Take action instead with these seven career winning tactics.

1. Be the Boss of Your Career

First things first, no one else is responsible for your career path but you. That’s can be something hard to remember, especially in the daily bustle of deadlines, meetings, and projects. You can feel a little like your career isn’t in your hands.

It’s easy to get stuck, and blame those in charge for our lack of progress. Ultimately, your career trajectory is yours to set. Even if you have to reset.

Greg Shirley knows a thing or two about career paths. He used to work at the University of Texas’ career development center. Now, he does similar work with Texas Woman’s University. As a career advisor, he often tells people that their always developing their careers.

Career Development Expert Greg Shirley on taking charge of your career. (Credit: YouTube)

Shirley advises staying curious. You have to be open to new opportunities, even if they aren’t within your comfort zone. You should be looking to learn new skills. Seek help from others who might have more experience. He also advises joining different professional organizations to create connections with others in your field. Those connections might even lead to your next job.

2. Don't Be a Pushover

It’s not enough to explore new options and learn. When it comes to owning your career path, you’ve got to become you own cheerleader and speak up for yourself.

Ask yourself what you want out of career and tell others about it. Because how can you expect to move forward  if you don’t have an idea of where you're going.

For example, you want to take on a leadership role. How can you lead others if you can’t lead yourself? Having clarity is a quality of leadership, as is inspiring others. You have to do that for yourself first. What’s your vision for yourself? Does it inspire you?

Journaling is one of the best ways to be proactive and track your career aspirations in the New Year (Photo Credit: Pexels)
Journaling is one of the best ways to be proactive and track your career aspirations in the New Year (Photo Credit: Pexels)

To know for certain, you have to get honest with yourself. Take inventory of your accomplishments and your failures. What you’ve learned. What you still want to learn. What are your skill sets and which ones do you see as opportunities to grow.

That’s just half the equation. Leading Women CEO Susan Colantuono says you’ve got to be an advocate for yourself.

Susan Colantuono on career advice you need to hear. (Credit: YouTube)

Make your accomplishments and abilities known to key decision makers. Yet stay humble. Your goal should be to demonstrate your competence and what you bring to the organizational table. Also be sure to acknowledge the work of others on your team and give credit where credit is due.

You don’t want to be known as a lone wolf who can’t work with others. You’ll be remembered more if you have a team mindset and build relationships with your peers.

3. Be a Trendsetter

Part of staying curious is learning new skills. There are skills that’ll become more important in the New Year.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

-Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist

Let’s talk about the skills that have come up in more than a few 2020 trend lists.

  • Emotional Intelligence: If you have a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), you’re typically more empathetic and able to understand your own emotions well. This skill is one to look out for in 2020 because EQ is critical to building stronger ties with your peers at work.
    Growth Mindset: This is where you see challenges as opportunities to grow as a professional. Having a growth mindset keeps you on a learning path, which makes it easier for you to adapt to change. In other words, don’t be the old dog who can't learn new tricks.
  • Focus Mastery: As the name implies, this is where you harness your ability to focus. Taking one task at a time and focusing on those tasks that matter most. In a way, this is another form of effective multitasking.

4. Don’t Be a Trendsetter

Pay attention to trends but don’t be a slave to them. There are still a variety of other skills that are evergreen and you’ll need to constantly work on those as well.

Here are a few skills to keep in mind.

  • Intrapersonal Intelligence: This has a lot in common with emotional intelligence. Both involve taking inventory of your emotions. Intrapersonal intelligence involves a deeper understanding of those emotions and how they drive you.
  • Interpersonal Skills: These skills help you work with your peers better. You’ll be more collaborative and be stronger in other soft skills, such as empathy, inclusiveness, and influence. You’ll also be more adept at communicating ideas and getting team buy-in.
  • Resourcefulness: Your ability to overcome challenges makes you valuable to any organization. This almost goes along with having a growth mindset. Instead of road blocks, you see opportunities. You’re willing to find unconventional solutions to unconventional problems. And do what it takes to get the job done.

5. Face Your Worst Critics

You can’t improve if you don’t know where to start. One way to do that is seeking out peer feedback. And you don’t have to wait until a 360-degree review.

Facing your critics and seeking their feedback is a great way to improve. (Photo Credit: Pexels)
Facing your critics and seeking their feedback is a great way to improve. (Photo Credit: Pexels)

Facing your critics and seeking their feedback is a great way to improve.Feedback needn’t be a passive activity. After all, feedback isn’t a gift that you wait to receive. It’s a principle we firmly believe in at Matter. Why? Because you don’t seek out gifts. You can go after feedback though. Ask your trusted peers for their opinions on your strengths and your opportunities for growth.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

-Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder

You might find it helpful to have a mentor in your profession. Someone who’s had a few years under their belt and can advise you on the challenges you face.

However, feedback is not a one-way street. It flows in both directions. Pay it forward. Mentor others. Be willing to also give your peer feedback when they ask for it.

You might find it helpful to have a mentor in your profession. Someone who’s had a few years under their belt and can advise you on the challenges you face.

However, feedback is not a one-way street. It flows in both directions. Pay it forward. Mentor others. Be willing to also give your peer feedback when they ask for it.

6. Embrace Your Fear of Failure

Feedback can be a terrifying prospect. It isn’t easy to hear where you might’ve come up short in your work. Fear of feedback isn’t necessary. Because we all need it to improve.

Accepting you aren’t perfect and will make mistakes will help ease the feedback process.

Failure can be a learning opportunity, as Astro Teller points out. Teller is the former head of Google X, the tech giant’s experiment branch. They allow their team to fail and fail all the time

Astro Teller, formerly of Google X, on why growth needs failure. (Credit: YouTube)

Teller says you won’t know where to grow if you don’t try and fail. Think of failure as another opportunity to improve. So embrace your fear of failure. Try and try again. And learn from those mistakes along the way.

7. Know When It's Time to Take a Hike

Employment is a relationship between you, your peers, and your leaders. Sometimes we grow with our relationships. Sometimes we don’t.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

-Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder

If you’ve outgrown a role or an organization, know when it’s time to move on. One of the signs that you’re ready is less engagement with the work you’re doing.

Don’t stick around if it doesn’t serve your growth anymore. Remember you’re in control of your career path. Only you can determine what you want and need from it.


Matter: The Future of Feedback

Matter helps professionals become the best version of themselves. We believe everyone can  achieve mastery, learn, grow, and be respected by their peers. People perform better when they receive monthly peer feedback (proven by science too!).

Matter makes 360-degree feedback easier, pleasant, and more productive. Grow over professional and soft skills like leadership, public speaking, storytelling, and vision. Level up and take charge of your career with Matter.

Cover Photo Credit: InSapphoWeTrust, Flickr