Happy New Career

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Stylist Team
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At the start of the New Year many people find changing their job is at the top of their New Year’s resolutions but often don’t know how to go about it.

To help (and as the first installment of our Career Clinic), we've enlisted career coach and author Grace Owen to share some of her top tips for taking control and making positive steps towards a new career.

Grace advises starting with establishing how you feel about your career and working life by rating your level of satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is dissatisfied and 10 is satisfied. If you're relatively happy with how your career is progressing (6-10) then great - keep it up! But if you rate your career 5 or less it may be time to consider a change. Read on for Grace's mantra for increasing satisfaction in your work life and seeking out opportunities for change (which handily spells out the word CAREER)...

C is for clarity – where do you want to go next in your career?

Being clear about what the future might hold for your career requires energy, discipline, patience and curiosity - it is hard graft but in the long term is worth the effort!

Action: Look back over your entire working life; identify the highlights and low points. What do they reveal about what is really important to you? Think about what kind of experiences, talents, skills or interests you want to take with you on your journey and the values that matter most. All of these factors will give you the confidence, drive and motivation to take control of where you are going, steer a course to the future and realise your dreams.

A is for attitude – is your glass half full or half empty?

How you feel about your career and working life can lead you to feeling powerless or powerful. Whether you are employed or self-employed, the first impression you make is the most important of all because it only takes a few seconds but lasts for months, even years.

Action: Become more self-aware. What kind of attitude do you convey on a typical working day? What are you thinking about, saying or doing that creates a negative attitude? If you are not sure ask four people, who will be challenging and supportive, for feedback. Then identify ways to think and behave in a more upbeat and welcoming manner. A positive attitude makes all the difference at interviews and pitches for business and, in a labour market where there is an abundance of talented people, your disposition will go a long way to determine if you are hired or fired.

R is for relationships – what kind of network do you have?

Your network, personal and professional, is a valuable source of expertise and advice, so it is vital that the people you need are in place. If it is full of people who are like minded and complement you, great! However, if there are people who sap your energy or that you want to avoid, there is pruning to be done.

Action: Review your address book, mobile phone directory, email contacts, Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections. Identify an inner circle of 12 people you want to contact regularly and make time to see and support. With others the odd email, coffee or night out will suffice. Harnessing your network to find out about job vacancies or create strategic business alliances are examples of the benefits it can bring.

E is for equipped – are you investing in your own learning and development?

Your talents, knowledge, skills and experience are priceless. Utilising, growing and updating these assets is essential in demonstrating your ability to deliver outcomes to a high standard. Who you are and how you perform determines your track record and reputation.

Action: Create a self-development plan for the next 12 months based on things that you want to improve, focusing on playing to your strengths rather than trying to correct your weaknesses. Doing this will add value to your CV, help you to give your best and will get you noticed. Developing yourself isn’t all about going on courses; you can also learn by reading, joining online webinars, networking, and on the job through mentoring, conferences and coaching.

E is for excellence – what does excellence in your work mean to you?

When you make the most of your career other people see you as a role model and want to hear about the successes and pitfalls along the way. Being visible and sharing your story to an individual or group inspires others to be courageous and confident to take calculated risks. Ultimately you can influence people to change and fulfil their potential by being your best self.

Action: Set your standards of excellence by being authentic and completing each of the CAREER tips. In your heart you know if you’re operating below or above par. If you are content to stay in your comfort zone, watch out because the bar will eventually be raised, so be proactive and step up. We all have the capacity to be and do more; our potential is unlimited. Remember that as the world changes the strategies that bring you success now may not necessarily work forever. What got you to where you are now won’t always get you to where you want to be, so prepare for and try to pre-empt the future.

R is for reflection – are you taking care of yourself?

If you’re feeling irritable, fed up or burnt out it is time to get real and set your priorities straight. You have one life and no-one knows what tomorrow will bring, so enjoy all aspects of your life each and every day.

Action: Pause and take time to check out your spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and financial wellbeing. If your work and life is out of balance, identify just one key action that will redress this. For example, if you’ve been working too hard then organise a night out. Keep taking small steps and the changes you make will spur you on. Self care is not selfish but a necessity in a world that demands our attention and time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Guard your time and enjoy the present moments.

Got your own tip for or story regarding taking control of your career? Share it in the comments section below. Also check back over the next seven days for more career advice in our 2011 Career Clinic.