12/21/2017 10:44 EST | Updated 12/21/2017 16:32 EST

How To Set (And Keep) Your New Year's Career Resolutions

If you aren't personally committed to a career or personal resolution, no matter how large or small, you will probably fail.

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Setting and keeping New Year's career resolutions involves more than getting a promotion or attracting a specific number of new clients in a certain amount of time. That's why it's important to differentiate between a career "resolution" and a career "goal." Before you set career resolutions, you need to set career goals.

A career goal defines a tangible accomplishment, such as being promoted to senior vice president, marketing or reaching a certain sales level.

A resolution tends to involve changes in behaviour and ways of getting things done. For example, "To become a member of the senior leadership team, my resolution is to become a better communicator to earn more trust."

Before you even think about making your first New Year's career resolution, step back and decide whether or not the career path you are on is still the right one. Or, do you feel that your present career no longer inspires you and that it's time to change your direction? You need to be 100 per cent committed to your current path before any career resolutions will stick in the long term.

If you aren't personally committed to a career or personal resolution, no matter how large or small, you will probably fail.

Once you have decided to further commit to your career and you have defined your goals, then it's time to consider your New Year's career resolutions. They need to come from you, not from others. For example, do you have some amazing and sensible personal New Year's resolutions that involve exercise or diet come from a partner, friend, colleague or health professional? Sometimes, you are not keen on the resolutions they suggest, but you go along with them anyway. If you aren't personally committed to a career or personal resolution, no matter how large or small, you will probably fail.

Examples of New Year's career resolutions include: Bringing more work/life balance to my career; becoming a better listener; taking more initiative in developing ideas to help my business or company; learning more about my colleagues and organization; or understanding my industry better (which may involve taking a course, or two).

Once your resolutions are in place, re-start your engine and go full throttle toward them. Here are seven tips to effectively choosing and fulfilling your career resolutions:

  1. Create a list of the reasons you have chosen to follow a certain path and where you want to be at the end of the year or any time in the future.
  2. Revisit your definition of "personal success." Does it translate into a financially prosperous year or is career and business success just a small part of it? How about broadening your range of interests outside of business, such as volunteering in a non-work-related environment?
  3. Review your business or job plan to ensure your career resolutions are relevant to your career goals. For example, is 2018 going to be a breakout year for you as you test new strategies or are you planning on building on what you have achieved thus far?
  4. Create a list of no more than five career resolutions. There is no quick fix, and the most significant resolutions don't take effect immediately. The process may extend over several years. For example, you may want to boost your emotional intelligence to become more communicative or collaborative. 2018 may be the year that you plant the seeds of resolution that, in time, will help you grow into that person.
  5. Remember that keeping career resolutions may not be easy but it is worth it. Small steps can build into larger strides of accomplishment– emotionally and financially – with less stress along the way.
  6. Constantly take stock of your skills and achievements. Ask yourself why you are valuable to your company and clients. Consider gaps in your skillset, performance, company or client businesses that you need to fill in making your career resolutions a reality.
  7. Realizing career resolutions is easier when you engage others, and not necessarily only on a professional level. Reconnect on a personal basis with colleagues and clients with the intention of learning more about their goals and aspirations. As your relationships grow, their support will help you to fulfill your resolutions.

Staying on track with your career resolutions is easier when you become a better listener. That's because good listeners tend to learn more, bring relevant substance to a conversation, enrich relationships and earn the trust of others.

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