There’s nothing like the start of a new year to give you that little boost and motivate you to make some changes. And when it comes to your career, just a small amount of extra effort can reap big rewards – or at the very least give you a better sense of direction.

new year resolutions Setting realistic goals, drawing up a plan and putting some time aside to reflect on your future helps you get into a proactive mindset and tackle the New Year with enthusiasm. Here’s how to get started!

Research your next move

Are you happy working where you are now? What would be the next step up the ladder – and how could you get there? What’s lacking in your professional life? Maybe you’re just looking for more money, or maybe you’ve reached the limit of what you can accomplish with the skill set you currently have. Spend some time researching related careers and looking at the job market. Planning your next move is a lot easier when you know what you’re up against! The more thorough your research is, the clearer the picture becomes. Spend a little time researching your dream job and see if there’s a way you can start steering your career path towards it.

Commit to upskilling yourself

Thanks to the web, it’s never been easier to learn new skills, study towards a formal qualification, or broaden your depth of knowledge in the field of your choosing. Whether it’s taking a writing course to improve your written communication skills or watching some videos on how to be a better salesperson, inspiration is everywhere. It’s important not to take on too much at once, however. Rather commit to one hour of study a week you know you’ll be able to stay motivated to continue than sign on for more than you can chew, at least initially. The main reason so many New Year’s resolutions fail is because we forget to factor waning motivation into the equation. Forming new habits takes time, so you need to be able to keep it up for long enough that it becomes natural. Once you’re accustomed to setting time aside each week to upskill yourself, you can get a little more ambitious!

Dress up a level

And speaking of motivation, there’s one trick that seems to work wonders for everyone – looking the part. When you know you look smart, polished and professional, your behavior changes accordingly on a totally subconscious level. Your peers and superiors are bound to notice too – and the fact you’ve made an extra effort can count in your favor big time when there’s a promotion on the table. If you’re not a fan of trawling the shopping malls, then dedicated companies like House of Monatic Corporate Wear have a huge range of styles and looks to choose from online, and will deliver your new work wardrobe right to your door. Like they say, ‘dress for the job you want’!

Draw up a time-sensitive plan

Open-ended goals are a lot harder to stick to than ones with deadlines. We’re all familiar with that eerie feeling at the end of yet another year, when it seems simply impossible that 12 months have flown by again! Write down your goals, and then set a realistic time frame and deadline to achieve each one. Stick it up on your bedroom wall, put it down in your online or email calendar – whatever will make sure it comes back into your life. Being able to see a timeline makes your goals more ‘real’ and being able to measure your success over time and see tangible progress will be sure to keep you motivated.

Invest in some great motivational or professional development books

When you need that extra boost or feel your resolve starting to slip, there’s nothing better than a really inspiring writer or speaker to rekindle the flame. They don’t have to be expensive either – there are usually plenty of ‘oldies but goodies’ available at the local library, affordable eBooks you can download, and lots of free goodness available on YouTube. Whether it’s the biography of someone you look up to, the work of an expert in your career field or a charismatic motivational speaker, sprinkling some outside wisdom into your weekly routine can work wonders.

Reflect on the highlights and lessons from the current year

Even if you’re not planning on making a major career change, keeping your CV or resume updated is always best practice, lest you forget some of the achievements and milestones of the year that was. Give your CV a makeover, and make sure to include any new skills you’ve gained or impressive accomplishments. It’s a nice way to round off the year and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back too!