5 Tips To Gain Career Clarity Between Christmas And New Year’s Day
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of the slowest work weeks of the year. According to SHRM’s Holiday Schedule Survey, 95% of companies are closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, which causes many people to take additional vacation to bridge the gap. This holiday break may also slow your work demands while clients and decision makers are out of the office.
Whether you’re able to take this week off or not, the time between Christmas and New Year’s offers a unique opportunity to reflect on your career and where you want to go next. Instead of setting arbitrary resolutions, you can choose to be more thoughtful in assessing what you really need from your next career step.
1. Take stock of your energy levels
While you may be tempted to set aggressive career goals each and every year, that is not the best long-term strategy. Consistency is the greatest predictor of career success and it is heavily influenced by your ability to balance periods of ambition and effort with reflection and rest.
There’s a flurry of activity that takes place leading up to the holidays, but the days that follow are typically calmer. During this time, check in with yourself to gauge your physical, mental and emotional capacity. Are you too drained for aggressive 2020 goals or are you bored and ready to shake things up?
Don’t forget that a goal to rest more or a goal to accomplish less next year is also a worthy endeavor. Be honest about what you need.
2. Choose your highest priority
Work-life balance assumes that you can give equal attention to your professional and personal life within the same time period, but rarely is that true. Instead, certain years or seasons of life will place greater or lesser priority on your career.
There is no better time than fresh off the holidays to assess what you want the balance of your work life to be. Is this a year when you will focus more on your personal relationships or your physical well-being? Or is this the year that you will finally shift your attention into launching a business or making a career change?
While you might dream of doing it all at once, you’ll be more effective if you clearly identify your highest priority. That doesn’t mean you will neglect all the other areas of your life; choosing this tactic simply means you know where to place the most effort.
If every area of your life is a priority, none of them will get the kind of sustained attention needed to make progress. Pick one goal and don’t feel guilty about putting the others aside for now.
3. Start deleting before you start adding
What blocks most people from achieving career clarity is a lack of time for assessment. The holiday week will give you a rare opportunity to conduct an initial assessment of what you want to accomplish next year, but this is just a starting place. Your goal needs to be refined through constant reassessment throughout the year.
To do that, you have to create space in your life to slow down when it isn’t a holiday. Start first by cutting out time-sucking activities, like excessive social media use, or limiting your interaction with people that drain you of energy.
Be ruthless about identifying things that aren’t adding value in your life so you have the space to develop and expand your goals.
4. Don’t be afraid to practice
We would never expect an athlete to be ready to perform at a high level without practicing. Yet it’s common in today’s business world to assume that it is a weakness to let others see you working on a skill you aren’t already competent in.
This fear of being caught practicing limits where your career can go and leaves you stuck, unable to branch off into more daring roles. Starting a side business will require that you practice accounting and marketing skills that you may not already have, and establishing yourself as an expert might force you to start writing a book before you feel ready to be an author.
Don’t shy away from these risky but bold goals. They will lead you to more interesting and frankly more lucrative paths, if you can stomach the anxiety of working through the practice phase.
Use this next week’s downtime to identify the skills you need to improve on and consider setting a career goal focused solely on gaining more practice in 2020.
5. Reassess your mentors
Many people think mentorship is something that is only needed in the early phases of a career when nothing could be further from the truth. Your career challenges and dilemmas get more complicated the higher you rise which creates an even greater need for the guidance of experts.
Well-timed mentorship can save you from making avoidable business mistakes and taking career detours.
Commit right now to take time this week to reflect on the mentors in your life. Have you let your relationships grow stale? Are your current mentors still the right people to get you where you want to go next? Are there people you want to learn from, but haven’t had the nerve to ask for formal support?
A new year and a new decade is right around the corner. There will be no better time to seek guidance on a new phase in your life. Set your intention now to use the work break ahead to start this next year with purpose.
While resolutions can be overwhelming or seem unattainable, these tips will help you seek greater clarity on what you truly want and will set you off on a new and better course for 2020 and beyond.