9 Ways to Set Yourself Up for the Best Year of Your Career
As the end of the year approaches, here’s a question for you: How do you think your year went?
Whether you achieved most of your goals; veered in an unexpected direction or simply fell short, this is the time to review time gone by and set up some bright new career goals to achieve.
Here are nine tips that will set you up for a truly memorable year—maybe even the best of your career!
1. Make a mental commitment.
Your mental attitude matters more than anything else. Simply put, there’s nothing more powerful than a made up mind, so make up your mind now. Decide that you’ll do whatever it takes to make this your best year ever. If you feel resistance towards this idea, explore what the reasons are and challenge your limiting beliefs. It’s both realistic and possible to create a fantastic year when you buy into it and then make it happen.
2. Set time aside to review and strategize.
The end of the year is an ideal time to take a step back and assess where you’ve come from and where you’d like to go. Radical progress is unlikely to happen unless you set time aside to ponder these questions. Focus on the reality of your situation, your true desires and the choices that are available to you. Block out time and find a place where you won’t be disrupted and where your thoughts can flow freely. This could be anywhere from an inspiring meeting space or coffee shop to an art gallery or a breathtaking mountaintop. Make an appointment with yourself now, just as you’d schedule a work meeting.
3. Give yourself credit for past achievements.
As you review the past 12 months, be honest about what went really well. Reflect back on your successes. To get the discovery started, list the work you receive praise and recognition for. Consider the projects you delivered, the skills you learned, the situations you mastered and the relationships you built. Make a note of your personal achievements and your team’s. Ask questions like:
What new practices did I implement?
What positive feedback did I receive from customers and managers?
What did the project team do really well and in what ways did those actions add value?
Now consider the underlying drivers that contributed to those successes. Analyze what lead to these achievements, so you can do more of what worked well going forward.
4. Be honest about your disappointments and setbacks.
It can be hard to admit that certain aspects didn’t go as well as we would have liked them to—or that there were mistakes and setbacks. But it’s important to be honest about our shortcomings if we want to create better results going forward. The best part of making mistakes is learning from them. Take inventory so you don’t repeat them and instead get your money’s worth from them. Some questions to ask yourself:
What were some of my disappointments this past year?
What were the tough moments on my project(s)?
What feedback did I receive from peers and managers about aspects I need to improve on?
For each setback you experienced, make a note of how you handled the situation and what you can learn from it.
5. Dream big.
When it comes time to set your goals, dream big for your new year. Ask yourself questions to get your dreaming activated and write down your answers as they come. Here are some questions for you:
If you had a magic wand, what would I like to get from the new-year?
What would need to happen for you to feel truly fulfilled and proud 12 months from now?
What skills would you like to learn and what would you like to create?
What passions would you like to pursue in your spare time that will help you become a better leader, project manager and teammate at work?
What difference would you like to make to your clients, your team and your community?
You have a unique opportunity to contribute to a cause bigger than yourself with the projects you’re involved in. No one ever served the word by playing small, so raise your standard, take responsibility for your future and dare to dream big.
6. Create a vision and mission statement.
To set yourself up for the best year ever, put together a paragraph that encapsulates everything you’d like to be, do and have. A vision and mission statement defines what success and excellence look like, and where you want to be in the future. It reflects your values, goals and purpose, and how you want to operate. Start by asking yourself what personal qualities you most want to emphasize and how you can best do so through your work. What’s important is that you end up with a statement that rings true for you—and inspires you to step up and create a better future for yourself.
7. Be accountable.
With your goals in hand, the key now is to sustain momentum so you can achieve those goals. A tried-and-true way to stay focused and accountable is to be part of a supportive community. Try joining or forming a mastermind group with like-minded professionals who can serve as a sounding board and share their experiences as well. Or, use the buddy system and find someone who, like you, wants to be accountable to and inspired by someone else. You can also work with a professional coach who will keep you on track. Whatever you do, establish a mechanism that lets you regularly review where you are, and stay motivated to keep taking action towards that which you desire.
8. Work with others.
One of the best ways to step up and find fulfillment is to work with others. This includes mentoring, training, teaching or coaching. When you become a role model you’ll feel inspired to meet your goals and set higher standards, now that others are following your practices. When you teach, coach, train or mentor others in topics such as project management, leadership, decision-making, collaboration tools, requirements gathering or any other topic that is close to your heart, not only will you become even more of an expert in your field, you’ll also contribute to other people’s growth and development, which is intrinsically satisfying.
9. Inspire your team to reach new heights.
When you’ve completed the above steps with your own career in mind, repeat them with your team. Set time aside to collaboratively review what you did well in the past year as a team and what you would like to achieve next year. Not only will it focus your team on important achievements, it will also serve as a team building exercise that will strengthen trust and collaboration. Your role is to encourage your team to review, dream and strategize—not to do it for them. A few ideas:
- Create a team vision and mission statement.
- Set up a mastermind group where the team can bring up new ideas, review progress, and improve existing practices throughout the year.
- Teach, coach and mentor each other and agree on a plan for how you’ll all stay inspired and committed to the team’s shared goals.
A new year is upon us and there’s no better time to review where you have come from and where you would like to go. Set time aside to ponder what you can learn from the past, what you would like from the future. Make a committed decision that you will do whatever it takes to make this next year the best one ever!
If you’re looking for some solid tips and best practices to upping your project management game, download our eBook, “5 Practical Habits for Today’s Project Manager.” Who knows where you might go with a well-honed habit or two? Go get ’em!