January is a natural time to pause after the rush of the holidays and look ahead with renewed vision, personally and professionally. Whether you are a young professional or you’ve been in your position for several years, now is the time to get into the right frame of mind for the year ahead.
Challenges and changes are inevitable realities at work but their commonness allows us to grow increasingly adept at navigating the turbulence they create. Though it gets less attention, stagnation is an equally important issue because it becomes a greater obstacle as we progress into our careers. Taking even an hour this month to brainstorm and refocus your professional vision will help you manage well whatever this year may bring. Here are some practical suggestions to avoid stagnation and refresh your work in 2013:
- Self-Assess – You may have recently completed an annual review with your supervisor, but don’t overlook the importance of an in-depth self-assessment. What satisfies you about your work? What frustrates you? Are you heading in the direction you wish to be? What, if anything, is keeping you from achieving your goals? Answering questions like these with complete honesty can be a critical component in your sense of professional satisfaction.
- Stretch Your Mind – Since things are always changing, being both a valuable and happy employee may hinge on knowing what’s trending. Here are some simple ways to keep your head in the game:
- Attend a professional conference. If your budget doesn’t allow for travel, check out conference literature and websites for podcasts, seminar topics and keynote speakers.
- Browse the internet for websites and blogs that are relevant to your field. Bookmark the top three sites so you can stop by a few times a month. Check out on-line booksellers monthly for popular authors or new publications.
- Subscribe to a professional journal or periodical. Consider choosing two with divergent approaches or styles so you can compare how experts tackle similar issues.
- Collaborate – If zest for your work is gone or the well of ideas has run dry, gather a group of colleagues or associates. Whether it’s to brainstorm, discuss trends in your field, problem solve or simply to network, collaboration often clears away the professional cobwebs.
- Plan Getaways – Don’t wait for stress-related illness or fatigue to take time off. Now is the time to schedule getaways that will keep you healthy and recharged. Quarterly long-weekends will give you time and space to slow down and enjoy life. Also plan to work away from the office one afternoon a month, setting aside this time to ‘check-in’ with your professional goals.
Implementing even one of these strategies will help you manage professional stress and keep stagnation at bay. Once these strategies become part of the fabric of your work, you’ll start to see positive changes in both your work and your attitude.