As 2017 draws to a close, many of us are looking forward to a well-deserved break. However, it’s also true that many people struggle to completely switch off from work, thereby distracting them from the benefits of relaxation time. Some of us also often feel that the time that we’re not working is time that could be spent better, increasing the level of stress even more as we think about the work that faces us when we return to the office.
If this is the case, then while it might seem a little counter-intuitive, it might pay to be productive while you relax, so you can fully enjoy your holiday. By doing just a few small things, you can keep the stress of feeling like you’re not working at bay, and also set yourself up to hit the ground running in the new year.
Review the Year Before
In order to move forward, it’s essential to look at what we’ve accomplished and where we can improve. How has your year been? If you look back, what have been your career highlights? Perhaps you led your team to record breaking success, or you received the promotion you’d been working so hard for. Don’t forget that it’s equally important to celebrate your achievements. If we are only looking forward, it’s easy to feel like nothing has come to fruition, especially if you aren’t exactly where you thought you’d be. However, by looking back on your successes you can bolster your self confidence and remind yourself how far you’ve actually come.
Looking at your mistakes, while often not as rewarding, is also just as significant. If companies and candidates take the time to look at what went wrong, they can work on ways to avoid the issue in the future. Perhaps your processes for certain tasks weren’t quite as efficient as you wanted; what worked and what didn’t? What can be changed now to improve things in the future? By being honest about our successes and failures, we can formulate a plan for our personal growth.
After reviewing the year, it’s important to look forward and set goals for what you want to achieve. By coming up with effective goals, you set yourself up to succeed in both the long and short term. When setting goals, consider making them ‘SMART’ goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. By making your goals SMART, you provide a framework to manage them, ensuring that you’re giving yourself a tangible route to success.
It’s also important to keep the individual facets that make up your life in mind, as they don’t exist in isolation. Take your mental health and resilience into account, for example. Perhaps this year you felt that your work life-balance was completely askew, and both your career and your home life suffered as a result. Set a goal around improving this in the new year. Look at finances, family, fitness, friends, and anything else that might be important to you, and think about what you want to achieve in those areas for the coming year.
Another useful goal setting technique is the Start, Stop and Continue method, where you choose one thing to start, one thing to stop, and one thing to continue. This is a great tool especially when setting goals for career advancement, as you can discuss the habits or techniques your manager feels would lend themselves to a promotion. Perhaps you want to start up-skilling yourself, stop wasting time procrastinating, or continue the regular exercise routine you’ve started.
When setting goals, make them challenging but realistic, and keep in mind that your personal goals can often lead into your career goals. After all, happiness is important on both a personal and career level. You will perform better in your role if you’re happier, and as a manager, your team will have greater success if they’re happier too – it’s a win-win.
With so many areas to focus on it can be hard to come up with a goal or to know where to start. Remember, goals should be about you. They should be a reward or result in a positive outcome, otherwise it’s unlikely you’ll work towards achieving them.
A good place to start is to do one thing for you, every single day. It might seem small, but when you spend most of your life doing things for other people – whether that’s rushing around after your family, putting in those extra hours for your manager, or providing extra support for your team – you need to take some time for yourself. It can range from something as simple as listening to your favourite podcast to learning a new skill to boost your career. This can really help people stay motivated.
Another method is to put your thought process in reverse. Identify your end goal, then think about how you get there. For example, if your focus is on getting a promotion, what do you need to do to achieve it? Have clear benchmarks in place and don’t forget to include short term goals to help keep you on track, and if it’s your responsibility, ensuring your team is on track. Very few of us work in isolation, so work with the others around you.
Achieving Your Goals
Many of us set New Year’s Resolutions, but few of us actually achieve them. This can be for a variety of reasons, and there are easy ways to avoid reaching them. For instance, if you never tell anyone about your goals, it’s much easier not to be held accountable. Even just writing them down can make it much easier to keep track of them and increase your commitment. While having a mentor to help you up-skill and work towards those goals can be helpful, having another person involved in goal setting also has the added bonus of helping with accountability.
Additionally, remember to keep your goals realistic and be kind to yourself. If your goal was to be fitter, don’t beat yourself up because you’ve missed your gym session. View it as a minor setback and not a reason why you should give up your resolution altogether.
It’s also important to remember that goals are a marathon rather than a sprint. You don’t have to do everything this year, more to the point you probably can’t. It comes back to being realistic but challenged. Set yourself short term and long-term goals with clear milestones in between. Celebrate your successes, whether it’s achieving those short-term goals or simply having a really good day, and take the time for you.
The holiday season is a chance for us to really evaluate and set ourselves up for a successful 2018. Goals are critical to moving forward, but we need to make sure they’re effective and that they are just one part of our focus, not the be all and end all. But mostly, remember that this is for you and celebrate your achievements. After all, the happier you and/or your team are, the better it’ll be for everyone!
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