It’s great to set goals for the year, but most of us forget to factor in the time period during which we’re making them. When you consider what season it is or what the weather is like, your ambitions suddenly require more (or sometimes less) effort.
That’s why we’re going to help make your career goals for you this year—because we want you to succeed, and because we know the best times of year to focus on certain activities. (Read: No one likes to job search in the summer.)
So each month, we’re going to ask you to focus on one aspect of your career—that’s it! And, as a bonus, we’re providing resources to help you along the way.
Starting with January, we’ll tell you when to update your resume, increase your productivity, and focus on finding a better work-life balance—and by December, checking accomplishments off your list will feel like second nature.
Let’s get started taking on this year!
January: Update Your Resume
Chances are, enough has happened this past year that you can add and remove things (maybe even whole jobs!) from your resume. While you definitely have to tailor it for individual positions, there likely are updates you can make to your master version.
In addition to updating your positions and accomplishments, focus on these three tasks this month:
1. Use Better Verbs
Strong action verbs are your new best friends when it comes to crafting a powerful resume.
2. Quantify Your Bullet Points
Numbers and stats can transform good bullet points into great ones, so get specific with important details.
3. Re-design It
Maybe the new year means it’s time for a new resume layout. Spruce yours up with any of these free templates (or hire a pro to do it for you).
February: Improve Your LinkedIn Profile
Whether you’re searching for a new job, thinking about switching careers, or just wanting to give your LinkedIn profile a bit of love, February is the time to do it. With hiring season at its peak around this time, you’ll want to make sure your online presence is ready for whomever’s looking at it.
1. Decorate It
Add a bit of flair to your LinkedIn with a free background design that’ll make you stand out.
2. Highlight It
Improve your headline for maximum viewership by being specific, highlighting your current position, and showing off your accolades.
3. Participate on It
The quickest way to get your name out there? Join in on a discussion group!
March: Do a Little Networking
The word everyone hates: Networking. But there’s no time like now to start reaching out. Even thought it’s still chilly out (OK, possibly freezing), people are beginning to go stir-crazy and are more willing to meet for coffee or a drink. So yes, we know this isn’t your favorite, but we’re here to tell you that it’s easier than you think!
1. Network Where You Work
Yes, that’s right, you can network in your own office—and it’ll even make you a more recognized employee.
2. Ask a Stranger for Help
Asking a stranger for help may seem awkward, but it’s not when you personalize it. Hint: Kindness goes a long way and is more likely to render a response.
3. Write Great Subject Lines
You’d be surprised how three or four words can make all the difference as to whether or not people open your emails. Here are some templates to get you started on crafting the perfect one, so you can get even more networking meetings.
April: Become a Better Co-worker
As the snow and ice melts, there’s no better time to thaw your co-worker relationships, improve your sociability, and ultimately impress your boss. Your office interactions, whether in a new or old job, can make all the difference in how you feel coming into work every day.
1. Pick Up Key Skills
Here are six things you should start working on today to be more successful working with others—and yourself on bad days.
2. Ask Questions
You’re no mind reader, so don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues questions! You may make someone’s day (and save yourself a lot less work).
3. Be Aware of How You Phrase Things
Catching yourself when you might be coming across as judge-y, passive-aggressive, or rude is the first step to becoming a more pleasant person to work with.
May: Increase Your Productivity
Now that you can roll up your sleeves without shivering, it’s time to buckle down. Summer’s approaching, and you want to revamp your routine for a productive next couple of months—especially when all you really want to do is lay outside in the sun.
1. Learn How to Use Your Time Wisely
Slow days at work aren’t for surfing the internet or playing paper basketball with your co-workers. Make every minute count—you may even get ahead so you can enjoy your weekends later!
2. Change Up Your Routine to Find the Most Productive One Possible
Turns out that your regular schedule and habits might actually be slowing you down.
3. Download a New Productivity App
Who says you can’t have some help from technology? A new app can help you live productively, from eating healthier to being more punctual.
June: Focus on Work-Life Balance
You worked hard last month, so June is your time to relax and focus on healthy living and learning. Just because you have to work in the summer doesn’t mean it has to be all that bad—or that you can’t give yourself some “me” time.
1. Stop Working So Hard
First, recognize when you’re working too hard and need to stop. It’s possible to thrive at work without staying in the office until 8 PM every night.
2. Take Time Off to Relax and Regroup
It is in fact possible to take time off without “taking time off.” And your boss will love these alternatives!
3. Make Sure You Leave Work at Work
Don’t give away your weekends—you deserve them. Plan ahead, take breaks, and be willing to unplug at times.
July: Boost Your Confidence
July’s a delightful time of year for most people, so take advantage of the positive energy by working on yourself.
1. Read, Read, Read
One way to learn how to be more confident? Read leadership books from people who know what they’re talking about.
2. Stop Seeking Outside Approval
Stop letting others get to you. It’s your life and your job, and no one knows it better than you do.
3. Practice Positive Self-Encouragement
Most importantly, be nicer to yourself! Speak up, take on challenges, and have confidence in your own ideas.
August: Get Prepared to End the Year on a High Note
As fall approaches, it’s time to set goals for the rest of the year. What haven’t you accomplished yet? What are you still struggling to work on? The leaves haven’t even started to change color yet, so now’s your chance to tackle those things that are still pestering you.
1. Find an Approach to Accomplishing Things That’ll Work
Rather than push yourself to do something huge, challenge yourself to knock a few smaller items off your list.
2. Add Emotion to Your To-Dos
The best kept secret about to-do lists? Make them emotional. No really, I swear by it.
3. Get Organized
Once you get the list-making down, try organizing your to-dos by category (and by importance)—this way, you’ll get things done faster and more efficiently.
September: Break Bad Habits
It’s never too late to break those bad habits, and when better to do it than September? The weather’s cooling down, and work is starting to re-energize, so now’s the time to develop new routines that’ll make you that much more productive when the holidays roll around.
1. Recognize Your Less-Than-Ideal Office Behavior
If you’re not sure what your bad habits are, try checking these five off your list: saying sorry when you’re not, hogging the conversation, setting up unnecessary meetings, acting like a work robot, or venting unproductively.
2. Drop the Negative Language
Learn how to talk with confidence—you’d be surprised how much more respect you get from your co-workers.
3. Replace the Bad With the Good
And finally, replace those bad habits you dropped with some new ones that’ll make you an even better professional.
October: Learn Something New
Bored at work? Feeling a bit stuck? Try taking up a new skill or project that’ll boost your current career or even qualify you for another path in the future.
1. Take an Online Course
You don’t need to go back to school to learn something new—it’s all in the palm of your hand (or on your laptop).
2. Learn the Latest Tech
You don’t have to learn every new tech skill that comes into existence, but you should keep yours up-to-date. So why not pick up a new one (or two) this month?
3. Watch TED Talks
Listening to TED talks is one of the best ways to learn something new and valuable without wasting too much time, and thanks to the internet, there are more than you can possibly imagine.
November: Update Your Social Media
Everything’s starting to come together, and now we’re going to focus on an important part of your personal brand: your online presence. Here are some tips for how to keep your social media sharp in November (and hopefully for months after this one).
1. Write a Better LinkedIn Summary
Your profile’s the first stop for people who don’t know you. So why not make it clear exactly who you are?
2. Network on Twitter
Next is Twitter—did you ever think about networking there? Well, turns out, it’s actually a lot easier than it looks.
3. Consider Making a Personal Website
One of the best things you can do for your online presence is to create your own site: a hub for all of your work and social profiles. And before you panic, we’ve got a game plan that will help you get a single-page site up in an hour.
December: Get the Most Out of the Holidays
You’ve worked hard, and the year’s almost over, so congrats! December is your time to relax and enjoy the holidays. But while you’re at it, here are three ways to get the most out of this month (that have nothing to do with buying presents or eating a lot of home-cooked food).
1. Take Baby Steps Toward a Better Career
These career-boosting ideas are easy-peasy, and we promise they won’t take away from the holiday fun.
2. Write Thank-You Notes to Your Colleagues
The holidays are all about giving, so try giving thanks to all the people who have made your year great, whether it’s your boss, your co-workers, or an old connection.
3. Download More Awesome Productivity Apps
And when work is bumming your holiday spirit, here are nine apps that’ll keep you productive, yet sane.
Think you can handle it? Tweet me your best month!
TopicsProfessional Development , Goals , Career Goals , Syndication , Getting Ahead , Career Advice , Networking , Productivity
Photo of hand writing courtesy of Shutterstock.
Previously an editor for The Muse, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. She’s written almost 500 articles for The Muse on anything from productivity tips to cover letters to bad bosses to cool career changers, many of which have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., CNBC's Make It, USA Today College, Lifehacker, Mashable, and more. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer and reader, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.More from this Author