All I want for Christmas is career progression

By Juleen Perry| Published 2 December 2019

Dear Santa. I have been a very good employee this year. I have laughed at my boss’s jokes. I have worked my hours with a smile, and have done what was asked of me. But I am in the same place I was a year ago. All I want for Christmas is career progression.

It’s up to you, not your boss

It’s common for people to expect career progression simply because they turned up and did their job.

And when they don’t get it, they blame their boss, their boss’s boss and the colleague who did get promoted. But career progression is largely up to you. And in many cases you need to go out and make it happen.

Don’t look to your boss for career progression, it often begins with you.

The end of the year is fast approaching and with every Christmas present we wrap, there is the tendency to start to “wrap up” the work year just as quickly.

But now is not the time to shut down mentally on the work front. In fact, it is the perfect time to reflect on the year that has been, and start to consider your professional aspirations for next year.

A great place to start is by dusting off those resolutions you made nearly 12 months ago (no doubt under the influence of a little Christmas cheer).

  • What did you set out to achieve?
  • Where did you want your career to go?
  • Why aren’t you there yet?

Too often we make resolutions in the afterglow of the holiday period, but by February they are a distant memory. Gathering dust on the resolution shelf as the momentum of the new work year carries us away.

So how can you make your career goals stick next year? 

What had you hoped to achieve this year?

Career progression is up to you and you need to go out and make it happen.
  • Did you get there? If not, why not?
  • What could you have done to achieve your goals?
  • Was your manager aware of your career goals?
  • Did you actively work toward these together?
  • Did your personal commitments get in the way of your professional aspirations?
  • Were your goals realistic?
  • Were you really committed to achieving them?

It’s important to be honest with yourself. If you don’t take complete stock of what this year’s journey has been, then you won’t be able to clearly identify what mental roadblocks you need to release in order to have the best chance to achieve career progression next year.

What do you want to achieve next year?

  • What did you learn this year?
  • What worked or didn’t work?
  • What could you have done better?
  • Have your career goals changed?

As cliché as it sounds, a new year can feel like ‘wiping the slate clean’. Consolidate what you have learnt this year and use the opportunity of a fresh start to set you on the right career path.

It’s time to make it happen

The year is not over yet! Yes, there are only a few weeks left and they may seem consumed with Christmas parties and social events, but there is still time for reflection and preparation. Taking the time to set yourself up for the new work year, means you can begin working toward your career goals the minute you arrive back in the office next year.

Achieve great heights next year with some preparation now.

A few other tips to help you along the way include:

  • Write your goals down – visit them regularly
  • Challenge yourself with the goals you set – but don’t set too many!
  • Get your manager or team involved
  • Take risks

The new year brings a new start. Taking the time to reflect, define your goals and carefully plan and execute a strategy to achieve those goals will ensure you have the motivation and confidence to steer your career in the right direction.

Ultimately, it comes down to you. How much you want it, and how hard you are going to work for it.  As Randy Pausch said in his infamous last lecture, “luck is where preparation meets opportunity”.  

Don’t let your moment pass you by because you didn’t turn up for it! And don’t rely on Santa to leave a promotion for you under the Christmas tree.

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