You’ve probably already set your fitness goals and made plans to eat healthier. Maybe you’ve even set an intention for the new year and decided how you want to improve your love life. But what about your career? Feeling in control of your work life and finances is self-care too, and we can (and should) always be improving our professions for a more fulfilling life. If you need some inspo for your 2024 career goals, here are 10 career commitments that I intend to tackle this year.
1. I will acquire a skill outside of my comfort zone
We often gravitate toward things we’re good at. Year after year, we can rack up learning experiences in skills we actually love, leaving the trickier stuff for another day. But this year, let’s commit to learning and building skills around things that are a little outside of our comfort zone. I’ll be scanning Edx, Udemy, and Skillshare for free and low-cost classes on data science, design, programming, or any topic that feels more difficult to me.
2. I will join an office networking program
It’s time to expand the circle: Finding a mentor, like-minded people on your level, or even inspiring employees at different stages can help you move through your career more efficiently, working as a sounding board or source of support and inspiration. Many offices have some sort of affinity group or networking organization that can expand your connections at the office and hook you up with some new 9-5 friends. Remote employee? This is even more important, and making connections with others at your place of employment doesn’t have to rely on in-person coffee meetings. Nothing like this available to you? Start the next-generation leadership networking forum or simply connect with a group of like-minded people in your industry to build a networking group.
3. I will ask for that raise
Sometime in the next 12 months, we’re all likely to be in the mix for a performance review of some sort. Polish off that brag sheet that itemizes all the impact you’ve created in your role this year (or start keeping those notes now!). Asking for the raise is about documenting your success and regularly communicating your value to management. Make sure to get specific about what you want, and ask for a raise based on numbers, not just because a higher number sounds better (i.e. Are you doing more responsibilities than your last pay increase? Are you bringing in more revenue to the company recently?). Yes, you can do it. And if a pay raise isn’t possible (because your request likely won’t be accepted every time), there are other things to negotiate as well.
4. I will plot out my next career chapter
12 months out is the perfect amount of time to start charting some actual action items for a new role you’d like to explore. If you’re ready to move on to a new company, start scoping LinkedIn and networking with recruiters or HR representatives in your field. Ready for the next step inside your company? Meet with your manager about action steps, see if you can meet up with a new department on a joint project, or set up informational interviews with employees whose positions you’re interested in. A new role doesn’t have to be immediately on the horizon to make these moves. In fact, the small steps over time are the very things that position you for all kinds of unexpected opportunities.
5. I will learn to have hard conversations with coworkers
We all have that one coworker we avoid or hate working with. Maybe they’re not pulling their weight on a team project or perhaps they’re just generally difficult to deal with. Over the next year, try to use more of your emotional intelligence toolkit at work and pick up some skills for how to have hard conversations. Overall, strive to feel more comfortable providing feedback (including to managers or employees on your level), and always come from a place of how to better workflow, productivity, or the goal of the company (rather than offering critiques without solutions).
6. I will understand my personal brand
Whether we think we’re creating one or not, we’re all actively developing a personal brand, even at the office. So why not lean in and foster what you want your personal brand to be? First, think about your foundational skills, which are qualities that help get the job done. Where does your boss see you excelling? Do you need to work on your technical know-how or presentation skills over the next year? Second, be sure your network is growing with the right kind of people and that you are actively connecting and returning the favors of people who have helped you. Lastly, make sure your brand materials (like LinkedIn and resume) are up to date.
7. I will find low-stakes and high-stakes audiences to practice tough stuff
I’ll be honest: I really need to improve my presentation skills. But it’s hard to practice presenting in company-wide meetings or in front of my boss. Instead, I need lower-stakes places to practice public speaking where I’m feeling less stressed about the material and where I know that I’ll have a friendly audience (like organizing a game for my friend group, speaking up during book club, etc.). Experiences like these help boost your confidence for the tough stuff when you do have a huge presentation in front of the board or really need to nail the meeting with your boss. Finding other forums that are “high stakes” or have harder material to convey helps build those skills for the next stage of our work journey.
8. I will max out my work benefits based on my lifestyle
The start of a new year is a great time to review the benefits you have and make sure you’re taking advantage of all the things that your company offers. Start looking at how you might be able to increase your retirement savings through employer contributions and make sure you’re taking full advantage of PTO, flexible office hours, or sick days. Alternatively, hunt down those lesser-known perks like gym discounts or commuter benefits that you might be leaving on the table.
9. I will give back to someone earlier in their career journey
It can be easy for us to feel pretty internally focused when we think about our career journey, but nothing is more fulfilling than sharing what you have learned along the way with someone who is a little earlier along. Being a mentor can happen in small moments, so don’t get hung up on feeling like you need to take a junior employee under your wing for the rest of the year. A few well-timed, encouraging words before a client meeting or a coffee pregame before a big project can go a long way. Plus, you’ll have a fresh perspective on your own career trajectory and what you want to accomplish.
10. I will fit my career into my life, not the other way around
And last but arguably most importantly, let’s promise not to make our work world our whole world. While our jobs should be exciting enough to get us out of bed every day, our lives are made of so much more. In 2024, I’m recommitting to the mindset that my job is just one of the many pieces of my life that add up to who I am and prioritizing a healthy work-life balance, which means cutting off work at closing time (no exceptions!) and actively pursuing a healthy life outside of work.