Whether you love the magic of the holidays or resent the commercialism, it’s a great time to develop your career. Here are five simple things you can do to make the most of the season.
1. Office parties galore
Meeting clients, suppliers and even your own team in a casual setting is a great way to network. Chatting over a glass or two, find out your contacts’ plans and resolutions for the New Year, and share your own with them.
Keep it light. It’s a party after all. Let people see you as a human being they like to spend time with.
If you find topics you want to follow up on, book a time in January for a more in-depth conversation .
2. Christmas cards are the perfect excuse to stay in touch with your network
Write them by hand. Include a personal note that reflects something your contact cares about.
Choose people you get on well with, as well as those who might have an obvious career benefit to you. Genuine relationships are important for your well-being as well as for your career. And you never know who will be the people who can help you most in future.
You can even send a gift, as long as it doesn’t come across as too sycophantic. You don’t want to look like you’re buying people’s favorable opinion. Make sure your gift is relevant and personal.
3. Volunteer to help others
Christmas was never meant to be about commerce. We feel most fulfilled when we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Find something you value to be part of: visit a lonely elderly person, work in a food bank, raise money so all children can have a gift at Christmas, or choose another charitable cause to work with.
Not only is volunteering good in its own right, it can reconnect you with your values while also extending your network. It might also make a difference to your sense of purpose. What actions does volunteering make you want to take in your own career?
4. Use the change from your normal routine to reassess career
Rather than diving into New Year’s resolutions that are likely to be broken by the end of January, give yourself the chance to go deeper.
Use the time away from work to give yourself space to think. Mull over what is really important to you as you sit in front of an open fire or around the table with your family. Discuss your priorities with the people you love as you break bread together.
Then create a theme, rather than a goal, for the New Year. A theme is an attitude, a way of behaving that leads to the kind of results that you want. Themes apply across a range of activities and stay relevant to them all.
A goal is something like ‘exceed my targets’, ‘lose 10 lbs’ or ‘get promoted,’ but a theme might be ‘breakthrough,’ or ‘try less but do more’ or ‘focus’.
Themes are easier to stick with than goals and resolutions, but they are also more motivating and powerful. Once you fail at a goal (e.g. not exercising one day), it is easy to give up on the rest of them too. A theme, on the other hand, can help you to make choices between stopping and trying again. It reminds you why you chose the theme in the first place.
5. Update your resume
Having reviewed your priorities, set your theme and reconnected with your network, create the resume that is going to get you the next step you want in your career. Think through the people you are going to share it with in January, and how it will help you achieve your career aims for 2015.
Give yourself the best gift this Christmas: a sense of what is important to you in the coming year and the tools to make it happen.
Featured photo credit: Young man in suit is holding a bowler hat via shutterstock.com