Escalator

Before we left the office in 2015, we gathered around our big oak table, drank some bubbly, ate something round (it’s a thing!) and scribbled down our New Year’s resolutions for 2016. We then passed around a pink and gold plastic cup, smashed our resolutions inside, and spent the last hour of the 2015 work week sharing our resolutions. Maren Hogan asked us to go around the table and share our most important ones. When she got to me, she said, “Only one, Shaley.”

Why? Because I’m definitely the person to have seven really important ones I just have to share. I looked at the long list I had made – it got up to nearly twenty – but I chose one (to get back into playing piano) and then was cautioned by Maren that making too many resolutions can be setting yourself up for failure. Smart woman she is! Because it’s only been a few days into the New Year … and she is right. I don’t even know where that stinkin’ list is!

Therefore, if I’m going to give any advice on making (and keeping) resolutions, I’ll need to make them doable. Since 2016 is all about taking my career to the next level, I thought I’d share the biggest actions anyone can take to up their game. Take a look at my plan to a brighter, better career this year!

Resolution No. 1: Stay relevant and get ahead of the curve by reading top news every day.  

Don’t miss a beat in your industry or the industry you serve by keeping up with top headlines. Get into the habit of reading at least one industry-relevant article per day.

Industry-focused media outlets like ERE, Recruiting Daily, Blogging4Jobs, Fistful of Talent (AHEM cough Red Branch cough) and, of course, Recruiter.com are all great sources for relevant, trending information. Plus, these outlets are dedicated to their industries, so you won’t get distracted with unimportant or irrelevant news.

The constant flow of information will serve you well in professional conversations and your work in general. The more informed you are, the better your decisions will be. It’s just a fact! MindTools explains it best:

“First, you’ll make better decisions, and you’ll spot threats and opportunities early on, which can give you a competitive edge. This is especially important if you contribute to shaping your organization’s strategy. It’s also important if you’re involved in sales and marketing, where it helps you identify and take advantage of the sales opportunities that come your way.

“Secondly, keeping up-to-date with your industry is key for building expert power. By developing expertise in your job and your industry, you’ll earn the trust and respect of the people around you. From a leadership perspective, this is invaluable!

Finally, it will alert you to changes that you need to think about.”

WorkspaceHow to keep your resolution: It doesn’t matter when or how you choose to digest the news, just make sure it’s via a medium that works best for you. If you prefer email, sign up for RSS subscriptions through Feedly, newsletters like The Middle Finger Project or 7 in 7, or Google Alerts delivered straight to your inbox. Enjoy browsing on your phone? See if your choice outlet has an app (Flipboard is rad) or a text messaging alert system.

Tools to help: The only tools you’ll need for this one are your preferred medium, your reading glasses (if you need them), and perhaps a daily reminder on your smartphone!

Resolution No. 2: Show more gratitude to the people you work with every day.

Building healthy professional relationships with your coworkers is thought to increase productivity. Research shows that these social connections in the workplace make employees more engaged in their work and less likely to quit.

Workplace conflict, on the other hand, negatively impacts motivation, retention, performance, cohesiveness, morale, and even safety. With more than 65 percent of performance problems coming from strained relationships between employees, make 2016 the year to get along with everyone (no matter your past differences).

A great way to mend broken relationships with colleagues or start them off on the right foot is by showing gratitude and recognition. When is the last time you sent a handwritten personal thank-you note to someone who deserved it?

How to keep your resolution: Start an Evernote to keep track of the people who really helped you or stuck out through their exceptional work.

When thanking someone, remember to be less menial and more meaningful. Thanking someone for helping you fix the Keurig can seem kind of weird – I know coffee is often a matter of life or death, but maybe you should send that thank-you note to Josh, who stayed an hour late to help you reach your deadline, or Claire, who calmed you down after a bad performance review.

Having trouble finding someone who has been nice to you? Just start doing nice things for others and watch the culture of your company shift.

Tools to help: Thank-you note cards will be your best friend. Keep a stack of them at your desk. Obviously, you don’t want to be handing these out left and right, or they’ll lose their value. But if someone helped you in an exceptional way, they deserve a special thank-you note!

You can also show gratitude or recognize your coworkers or bosses for a job well done through a project management tool like Bitrix24 or a real-time micro feedback tool like iRevu.

Resolution No. 3: Improve your personal brand.

WatchesSocial media is an important part of your personal brand. If you’re not using it effectively, then you’re missing out on a platform to showcase your expertise. In fact, 35 percent of employers are less likely to interview candidates if they can’t find anything about them online!

Make sure to keep Facebook for personal usage, but sign up for a LinkedIn and Twitter account to promote your personal brand to a broader audience. Follow influencers and leaders in your industry (like @ChinaGorman), curate content from industry-leading news sites and blogs (Social Talent is so fun!), and engage followers with your own tricks of the trade! Once you get the hang of it, you can even start your own blog.

There is a lot individuals can do to market themselves through social media to earn followers and gain traction in their fields.

How to keep your resolution: Improving your personal brand through social media is a daily effort, so set reminders on your phone at specific times of the day when your followers are most active.

Tools to help: Tools like SocialBro, Hootsuite, and Buffer all allow you to schedule tweets in advance. This way, you won’t have to constantly check in on your Twitter. Download the apps to your phone so you can easily access them on the go.

There you have it! Three doable resolutions any professional can put into practice or perfect for this new year. Keep ‘em up and you’ll be on your way to a more credible reputation as an influencer and an overall better person to work for and with!

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