Fewer than half of us make New Year’s resolutions, according to data from Statistic Brain, and just 8 percent of those who make resolutions manage to achieve them. This is not completely surprising, as New Year’s resolutions are generally not a serious exercise in intellectual rigor; rather, they are often quite lighthearted and superficial. More importantly, if you don’t achieve these resolutions, life can pretty much go on as it was.
That’s why I think it may be worth focusing not on resolutions, but more on career reality checks. There’s much more urgency to the idea of a reality check, and I think these checks may be more likely to spur you into action. (You always can follow up with resolutions after your reality check, if you really want to). I have outlined five important career reality checks to make in the new year:
1. Don’t Go into the New Year with Career Blindness; Do a Personal SWOT Analysis
We are in a period of intense change, driven by technological revolution, globalization, economic and geopolitical instability, and a consumer culture hungry for mass customization and instant gratification.
You need clear visibility in this stormy sea of change, and you can do this with a personal SWOT analysis, to help you understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. There is breathing space in the new year to do your own personal SWOT analysis, because most of the industry will be doing their own navel-gazing as they develop their strategic plan for the year. Don’t go into the new year blind.
2. Check if Your Career Path Is the Road to Extinction
Studies show that 47 percent of jobs that exist today are at risk of extinction or partial extinction over the next 10-20 years as a result of technological changes. Positions such as cashier, data entry, and customer service representative have an 80 percent or higher chance of being replaced by robots in 10-20 years – and that is already starting. Check out studies like this one from the University of Oxford, which lists 700 jobs and their probability of being replaced by robots. Know where you stand and find out if your career path is a road to extinction. You may need to think about a new career path that’s on an upward trajectory.
3. Check to See if Your Way of Working Is Coming to an End
This Intuit 2020 report suggests that self-employment numbers are soaring and contingent workers (freelancers, part-timers, seasonal workers, etc.) could make up 40 percent of the U.S. workforce in the next five years. Are you still fixated on permanent work when the pool of permanent work is in decline? You may need to change your employment expectations and outlook to make yourself more adaptable to a more contingent work environment.
4. Are You Using the Latest, Most Relevant Technologies?
Now, you don’t need to be a cutting edge disciple of Neo and Trinity, but you should ask yourself whether you are holding on to any legacy ways of working and/or failing to adapt to accepted technologies that will make you more efficient and more able to collaborate effectively. If you are, you risk being perceived as a laggard, which could be detrimental to your promotional and career prospects. Make this the year that you get on the technology curve to keep yourself relevant.
5. Check Your Work-Life Balance
Think about the work-life balance that you reclaimed over the festive period – while it’s fresh in your mind – and do a reality check to see how far your work-life balance has moved away from your ideal state. Is your work making you a stranger to your family, health, and/or personal well-being?
While the rosy glow of positive work-life balance is fresh in your mind, use it as a motivational tool to reclaim your work-life balance. Book your annual holiday leave now, (remember, 40 percent of American don’t use all their vacation time). Schedule a family/fun activity one day a week after work, to help draw a physical line between the end of the working day and the start of the family evening.
These are five career reality checks that I think are worth making at the start of the year, and I’d like to hear about any more new year reality checks that you think may be beneficial!