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Boost your career in 2012

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Want to kick start your career in 2012? Whilst we're not a fan of resolutions we'll never keep (giving up cake, for instance), the dawning of the new year is an ample time to try and improve your career prospects, whether it's developing achievable goals and an action plan, or maximising your effectiveness at work.

So we spoke to Dr Christine Bundy, the Simple Skincare Psychologist, who gave us 7 'action plans' (a much nicer word than 'resolutions') to help boost your career this year.

1. Work SMART

Think strategically: What are your personal and your organisation’s goals for the year? They may be different, but try to make them overlap where possible, that way you hit two birds with one stone. If you can see a direction with your current employer for the next 3 and 5 years it’s likely that the organisation provides lots of opportunities to get your career where you want it to be in 10 years. Don’t be frightened to say you are ambitious, and ask to be given more responsibility, but only if it fits with your plan. Learn to say no, but only agree or turn something down after thinking about it, NEVER agree on the spot. If you think about it at least overnight, this conveys to someone you have a plan. Be flexible and help your boss out when appropriate, but give too much flexibility and you will break!

2. Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) goals

If you try to make too big a change, too fast or without help it is likely to end in tears. A small achievement will encourage you to take on bigger challenges, but a big failure will just eat away at your confidence. Make a plan that you are pretty certain you can stick to and then plan another after that. Set small monthly goals that are all manageable so at the end of six months you will have achieved 6 new things successfully.

3. Don’t beat yourself up!

When setting a work goal that is important such as finishing a project or getting a promotion, you can take two steps forward and one back. This is usual in the change cycle; a lapse (short term step back) is not the same as a relapse (a permanent step back). Plan for a lapse in effort, a knock-back such as a putdown or day of poor concentration, but get right back on and change track as soon as possible. It’s important to be honest with yourself; if it really is a small lapse then fine, but if you are having regular lapses you may be setting too big a goal for yourself so keep a check.

4. Use your inner voice positively

Research shows that if you make your goals public you are more likely to implement that plan. We all have an ‘inner voice’, often it is very critical and negative and we come to believe what we hear ourselves say. Make it work for you not against you. This means if you hear yourself say: “I really want this promotion, but I’m not sure if I could hack the responsibility that comes with it” these self-doubts will be communicated to others. Better to say: “This is an exciting new opportunity that I know I can rise to, even if I need help with it at first”. Also good to tell someone you trust to help you so you stick to your plan.

5. Keep your eye on the long game

Set a series of short term goals (the first week), mid-term goals (a month) and long-terms goals (over a year). Be clear about what is achievable in those timescales; don’t be tempted to try to change everything overnight, it won’t happen. Stick to the SMART goals (above) and stay focused on the things you have been able to do and ignore the things you haven’t. Don’t be tempted to make big changes just because it’s the new year, it’s likely after a break you will be feeling anxious about what you haven’t done, but remember to celebrate what you have achieved.

6. Plan and reward short term gains

Checklists can help as long as you keep them manageable and don’t overload them. Build in ‘white space’ between meetings or tasks so you have time to think and prepare for the next one. Give yourself a pat on the back when things go well and positive self talk (see the ‘inner voice’ above) – say to yourself: “I am doing really well, I have done what I planned”.

Also, set up a reward system for when you’ve managed to go a week or two without slipping back. Be clear what the reward is and what it’s for such as having a manicure or going to the cinema if you manage to finish one task completely every day for a week. Focusing on positive feelings about change increases the likelihood that those plans will work. After a while you will start to feel your confidence grow and this will help you not just start changes, but to also maintain the changes.

7. Career confidence

Try not to fret about interviews or important meetings such as appraisals; it’s not so scary if you break down the things that worry you into small bite size chunks and deal with them in a more manageable and effective way. Acute stress caused by deadlines or interviews also shows in our skin and effects your behaviour.If skin is feeling hot or flushed due to nerves, keep a cooling face mist in your handbag for a quick skin refresher and remember to take deep breaths.

Preparation is key so make time for your appearance – have well manicured nails, wear a comfortable outfit, stick to a well balanced diet and a regular skincare routine which will help you achieve a healthy looking glow – you’d be surprised how all of these can help your confidence levels.

Finally, some resolutions that will stand you in good stead for the whole of your career:

  • Always be honest (doesn’t mean telling everyone what your plans are)
  • Show you have integrity (be consistent and trustworthy, everyone values this – colleagues and bosses)
  • Be discreet (keep your opinions to yourself unless asked for and then be careful who you tell them to)
  • Don’t gossip (it will come back to bite you)
  • Look good (you’ll feel better and radiate confidence).

What are your career goals for 2012? Tweet us @StylistMagazine.

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