How to Start The Year Right At Work

This can be a breakthrough year for you professionally. Here's how to make it happen.

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Always Be Ready To Apply

 

If you are comfortable in your job and aren’t looking for a career change, your resume may not accurately reflect your current position or responsibilities. Make it a point to update your resume so that it is ready to send out if needed. “You never know when an opportunity will arise internally or externally,” says Kathi Elster, co-author of Working for You Isn’t Working for Me. If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, create an electronic version of your resume and connect with colleagues. It’s always better to be prepared than to miss out on an opportunity because your resume was outdated and you didn’t have time to make changes.

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Ask A Colleague To Lunch

 

Avoiding office gossip and water cooler chats may seem like the more productive way to work, but building solid relationships at work is key to job productivity, says Tommy Spaulding, author of It’s Not Just Who You Know. Getting lunch or coffee with a coworker not only makes the day more fun, but helps you learn more about the people you work with. Don’t view it as “kissing up,” says Katherine Crowley, co-author of Working for You Isn’t Working for Me. “You never know when you will need a colleague’s help, assistance or support.”

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Boost Your Retirement Plan Contributions

 

This is a particularly good time to evaluate how much money you’re putting towards retirement, says Laura Adams, author of Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich. Payroll taxes are being reduced two percent (for a maximum benefit of $2,100), so you can increase your 401(k) or 403(b) retirement contributions by the same amount without noticing a difference. “Increasing your savings rate by just one or two percent each year is a powerful way to build wealth and grow rich over time,” she says.

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Expand Your Network

 

Establishing contacts in your industry and finding people that you can turn to for advice and support is no easy task. “It takes a genuine effort to build these relationships, and even more work to make them last,” Spaulding says. Many people fall into the trap of comfort, and stop putting as much effort into expanding their network and broadening their horizons. He suggests reaching out to three former colleagues a week and meeting with one new person face-to-face each month.

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Renew Professional Memberships

Being a part of an industry organization does more than provide you with the latest news and revolving door newsletters. Many people forget that these organizations offer member discounts on conferences, educational events and more, says Manisha Thakor, founder of the Women's Financial Literacy Initiative. "Take a few minutes to reacquaint yourself with all the benefits of your membership to ensure you are not leaving any extra value on the table," she says.

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Sign Up For New Memberships

 

Employers will often subsidize these memberships, so ask with your supervisor before taking out your personal checkbook for the (often steep) fees. “Belonging to professional organizations is insurance that you will be seen as an active player within your industry,” Crowley says.

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Create Your Own Mid-Year Review

 

Plan a mid-year check in with yourself. Make a list of what you have been working on, and take time to figure out what you tend to overlook and what you can do better. “Create a 100-day plan that is actionable and outcomes-based,” suggests Jennifer Prosek, author of Army of Entrepreneurs. “Making shorter timeframes, whether it’s weeks or months, helps you stay on track and self-motivated.”

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Schedule A Meeting With Your Supervisor

 

Scheduling a meeting six months in advance of your annual review shows that you are serious about accomplishing your goals and getting things done, Prosek says. She recommends showing your boss your 100-day plan and asking for feedback. “Waiting a year to find out what he or she thinks of your work is a mistake,” she says. “It can get people off track from where they want to be.”

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First Published January 13, 2011

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