With the end of the year approaching, I always find this to be a good time to take an objective review of your year from a professional standpoint. Don’t beat yourself up, but be honest: Did you achieve any or all of your career objectives? Did you get any closer? Whether it’s starting your own solo practice, lateraling to another firm, going in-house, working for the government, joining a startup or leaving the law to pursue an alternative career, what held you back?
Make a list of goals
One of the absolutely best ways to be able assess is if you made a list of your goals for 2011. I did. Yes, “resolutions” sound silly to me, but if it works for you use the traditional term, I call it a “goals” list. If you write them down, they become more real. Not just something you don’t remember if you really wanted to accomplish. Better yet, every year my sister and I email them to each other. Sending your list to someone now obligates you come clean and not just pretend you didn’t really want to do something if it doesn’t happen.
Be ambitious. Put a few things on the list that are unlikely to be achieved unless everything works out perfectly. There sort of your “reaches”. To balance that out, put a few down that you should be with very little effort. Something as simple as “Send out Happy Holidays email.” You still have time to put that on your list and then cross it off!
Don’t let fear hold you back
If one of your goals is networking, you may find it to be an uncomfortable thing in practice. Very few people feel comfortable in a room full of strangers trying to introduce themselves. I perform for a living and I’d rather stand on stage in front of hundreds of people then at a networking in event in front of dozens. One way to get past the fear is to find a networking buddy. Someone you went to law school with or work with. It can be someone who shares your discomfortable about having to awkwardly introduce yourself or if your lucky, maybe you know someone who relishes networking.
If money is the issue, figure out a way to address those fears. If leaving a comfortable, high paying job for a more emotionally and spiritually rewarding one gives you jitters about your financials, make a plan now. Don’t wait until you’re ready to make the move, but get yourself in the best position: move to a smaller apartment, start cutting out the fancy dinners, etc.
Get your resume ready now
If your goal is to get a new job in 2012, make sure your resume is in perfect shape. Most people spend the last week of the year resting and enjoying their time with family and friends. There is nothing wrong with that, but you should make sure you still spending a few hours here and there polishing your resume, cover letter, practicing your interview skills, maybe even spread the word at a holiday party so people can keep their ears open for you.
Dont wait until mid-January to start working on your goals
If your goals for 2012 are going to require some time to make them happen, then what are you waiting for. Jan 2 in a Monday. People are definitely back to work by Jan 2, so you should be too. If one of your goals is to reach out to people in an industry you want to work in, have those emails drafted over the holidays so all you have do on Monday or Tuesday is hit send. Hopefully you’ll be at the top of their pile of emails they are responding to. Don’t be the person that starts working on their goals for 2012 in July 2012. You will not achieve them.
Happy holidays everyone. I wish you all the best and truly have faith that you can achieve your goals with a little hard work and positivity. Full disclosure: I only achieved about half of my 2011 list, so this year I have to work twice as hard. Good Luck.