New Year, Fresh Start

by | Last updated Apr 9, 2021 | Executive Women

When we think about getting a fresh start in the New Year, we are accustomed to resolutions that involve eating healthier food, exercising more, and prioritizing stillness over busy-ness. We say that, THIS year, we’re “taking time to rest“, and how THIS year, we’ll “read 52 books a year“. 

 

But what about work? 

 

Most Americans spend 50% of their waking hours at work, which why so many women feel overloaded with work! During the winter months, many of us are at work from sun-up to sun-down, so it only makes sense that we spend some time thinking about how to optimize our workdays and, ultimately, our careers. 

 

Get a fresh start in the New Year at work by following this guide.

Start the New Year Fresh by Taking Stock of Where You Are

2020 came at us like a Major League pitcher with a vendetta. Fast balls, curve balls, sliders and change-ups came whizzing at us so fast we had little choice but to hit the dirt. The majority of working professionals felt overloaded with work

 

As we dust ourselves off and prepare to rally at work in 2021, we need to get clear on our starting point – namely, our job description. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your job description now the same as it was in January 2020? 
    1. If changes have been made, check in with HR to make sure the records have been updated. 
  • If your job description has changed, is the change permanent? 
    1. For instance, if you have been working from home since March 2020, do you have clarity about whether working from home is a long-term possibility?
  • Is it clear to you how your work contributes to organizational goals? 
    1. If you have struggled to draw a connection between your work and the organization’s mission, now is the time to gain clarity. What metrics are most important to your supervisor as it pertains to your position?

Did your career plateau in 2020? If so, was the cause pandemic-related or situational to you or your organization? 

two women at work

New Year, Fresh Start: Manage Up Effectively

 

If conversations with your supervisor are awkward, or if you’re not getting the detailed feedback you need to advance your career in 2020, try using this simple communication tool with your boss:

 

Start

What habits, behaviors, or actions do I need to start doing to benefit the organization in 2021? 

 

Stop

What habits, behaviors, or actions are detrimental to the organization, to our team or to my prospects of advancement that I need to stop doing in 2021? 

 

Keep

What habits, behaviors, or actions are beneficial to the organization that I need to keep doing in 2021? 

Another way to ask for this information is to ask your manager, “What three traits are critical to my upward mobility?”

Invite your manager to give you the kinds of feedback that will help you advance in your career. Specifically: 

  • When feedback is immediate, clear, and concrete, people learn quickly. 
  • When feedback is delayed, abstract, and opaque, people rarely learn. 

Open the door for future conversations by sharing the way in which feedback will be most effective with you. E.g., “If you see me doing X (behavior that we’ve discussed that I need to “stop” doing), will you tell me right away while it’s still fresh? That way, I can course correct immediately.”

New Year, Fresh Start: Grow in Place

 

Within your current role, are there: 

  1. Opportunities to build new skills? What relationships would you need to foster to gain the skills you seek?
  2. Opportunities to explore online programs and courses? Often less expensive than traditional in-person courses, online programs can offer tremendous value at a low(-er) price point. 
  3. Opportunities to benefit from informal mentoring or formal coaching? The strength of your network accounts for more and more access to opportunities as your career grows. Whether its job shadowing or sharing feedback about difficult conversations, a mentor is invaluable to any and every high-achiever. 

 

Armed with this information, you will have the information you need to excel day to day while also being prepared for any opportunities that may come your way in 2021.

Are you ready to stop stuttering & start speaking?

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New Year, Fresh Start: Goal Development

Now that you a) have had a performance review or performance check-in with your supervisor, and b) have clarity on habits, behaviors, and actions that will benefit the organization, it’s time to think about you and your own goals for career growth. 

Where is it that you want to be in your career one year from now? Five years from now? Ten? Cast a clear image of where you’re heading. 

Gain Clarity

As you consider your goal, ask yourself WHY you’ve identified this as your goal. No cheating! Here’s how it works with a fictional employee, Michelle. 

 

  • Sample goal: “I want to advance into the next position up.” (Why #1)
  • “I am ready to be challenged with more responsibility and to learn more about the business.” (Why #2)
  • “Learning and growth are important to me.” (Why #3)
  • “The more I learn, the more confident I feel.” (Why #4)
  • “Feeling confident leads to feelings of strength and ambition. Deep down, I know I am capable of making a big contribution.” (Why #5)
  • “When I make a big contribution, I am using my talents to their fullest potential and living into my purpose.”

 

Michelle is interested in moving into a more senior position. Her motivation to achieve this goal has more to do with something existential (living into her purpose) than it has to do with expanded responsibility. 

 

When we have to dig deep in order to keep our momentum, we need to look to the most fundamental reason for our pursuit of our goal. The “Why x 5” exercise helps us understand our motivations. 

 

Now that you know which direction you want to head in and why moving in that direction is important to you, it’s time to figure out how to make progress. 

 

What steps do you need to take over the next twelve months to be able to say that you have moved in the direction of your goals in 2021?

 

New Year, Fresh Start: Set SMART Goals

 

Let’s say you have a goal of “advancing into the next position up”. This goal, while worthy, is not specific enough to keep you moving forward through the challenges that will undoubtedly come your way. You need to establish SMART goals. 

 

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Let’s look at each of these more closely.

 

Specific

    • Be as specific with your goal as possible. Think about it like this: if you go to a deli to order a sandwich, do you say, “I’d like some bread with some meat on it.” No! You are specific. “I’d like turkey on wheat with mayonnaise, spicy mustard, romaine and a tomato.” 
    • To get what you want, be specific: “I want to go from novice to proficient at Excel.”

Are you ready to stop stuttering & start speaking?

I created this FREE  cheat with you (and me!) in mind.  “How to Address Overtly Offensive Comments” will equip you with statements you can keep in your back pocket. The next time  you’re flabbergasted by what someone says, you’ll be ready!

Measurable

    • You have heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done.” In order to accomplish your goals at work, you have to measure your progress. 
    • The same approach goes for scheduling: “What gets scheduled gets done.” Be specific: when exactly are you going to work on your goals? Every morning after breakfast? Weekly on Tuesday afternoons? 
    • Start by taking stock of your starting point. If your goal is to become proficient at Excel yet, right now, the mere act of opening Excel makes you freeze up, well, write that down as your starting point. 
    • Second, make a plan for HOW you are going to achieve your goal. Are you going to take a class? Seek out a mentor? Study online tutorials and videos? Write it down. For instance, “Each week, I will learn one new function by watching a YouTube video on what I want to learn, then practice running the function in a sample spreadsheet.”
    • Third, track your progress towards your goal. Keep a written log that you can refer back to as a reminder of the progress you’re making when you need encouragement to keep going. This log can serve as the foundation for your Brag Book (or, your “Love Me Book”). 
    • As you move towards efficiency with your new skill, what correlated benefits are you noticing? For instance, are you completing your reporting work twice as fast now that you are more comfortable with the program? Keep a record of these new benefits, too.
  • Attainable 

    • Pace yourself and start small. By breaking your goal down into small pieces, you allow your brain to focus on achieving one goal at a time without getting discouraged about not yet reaching your big goal. 
  • Relevant 

    • Make sure your goal is relevant to the work you have access to currently AND that it is relevant to a larger goal you have for yourself. 
    • For instance, if you have a long-range goal of becoming the Vice President of Sales, make sure that your short-range goal of becoming proficient at Excel will serve you as Vice President as well.

8 Ways to Save 150 Min/Day: A Guide for Executive Women

Executive women have learned how to build a fortress around their time. This guide will help you: 

  • Get more done, faster
  • Expertly manage your day-to-day

… so that you can go from:

  • Being stretched to the brink to feeling in control
  • Daydreaming about an escape to appreciating the present
Executive Women Save 150 Min/Day
  • Time-bound

    • Give yourself an end-date for your goal as well as progress check-ins. If you want to achieve your goal by Dec. 31, schedule quarterly progress reports so you can see how you’re tracking. 
    • Systemize your work towards your goal so that making progress towards it is part of your daily routine. Whether you plan to attack it first thing in your day or later in the afternoon, make a plan for WHEN you are going to work on your goal, then follow-through.

New Year, Fresh Start: Use an Accountability System

 

Once you’ve established your SMART goal, what sort of accountability network do you need to keep you moving towards it? For some people, going public about their goals via social media is what they need to maintain forward momentum. 

 

For others, having a one-on-one accountability partner is a better fit. They enjoy the deepening relationships and get a buzz from reporting on their progress to their partner. 

 

If your organizational relationships are weak right now, use this as an opportunity to strengthen your ties with others. Consider whether one more people in your department or perhaps even in another department might be willing to hold you accountable for your goals. They may appreciate you doing the same for them, laying the groundwork for organizational relationships that will benefit both of you for years to come. 

If you choose to keep your goals private, you might want to consider using an app like Lift (https://lift.do) to keep you on track. 

New Year, Fresh Start: Plan for (Self) Pep Talks 

What types of things motivate you? Some people set reminders on their phone so these messages auto-populate periodically, providing them with a boost of encouragement to keep going. Others get pumped up when they hear stories of people who are tackling challenges similar to their own. 

Or, perhaps you feel inspired when you see images of people who have conquered massive feats, like climbing mountains or overcoming hardships. Some people have favorite quotes or phrases that light a fire in their belly to move ahead. 

Make a habit of gathering and storing these stories, images, and quotes so you can refer to them when you need them.

If your organizational relationships are weak right now, use this as an opportunity to strengthen your ties with others. Consider whether one more people in your department or perhaps even in another department might be willing to hold you accountable for your goals. They may appreciate you doing the same for them, laying the groundwork for organizational relationships that will benefit both of you for years to come. 

If you choose to keep your goals private, you might want to consider using an app like Lift (https://lift.do) to keep you on track. 

New Year, Fresh Start: Expect Setbacks and Plan For Them

One of the reasons that you spent time getting clear on your motivation is to guard against inevitable setbacks. When you encounter a setback, note it in your log. If it is a challenge that your employer could help you overcome in the future, make a note so you can discuss it with your supervisor at the appropriate time. 

Make a plan for how you will overcome setbacks so you do not get discouraged and lose momentum when they happen. 

Beginner's Guide to Being an Executive Mom

This guide will help you navigate the challenges that threaten your forward progress.

  • Sidestep common pitfalls
  • Optimize your time at home while still fulfilling your ambition at work

… so that you can go from:

  • Feeling rushed & overwhelmed to time-savvy
  • Being distracted to fully present at home