New Year’s Resolutions Every Young Professional Should Make

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2017: The Year of the Career — at least that’s the plan, right? Rather than promising yourself you’ll limit your beer intake to weekends and hit the gym three times a week (or more!), try incorporating some career-boosting credos into your resolution repertoire. Whether you’re still looking forward to graduation or already climbing the corporate ladder, there are a few moves young professionals can make to position themselves for success.

Resolution #1: Join A Local Young-Professional Network

It sounds intimidating, but that’s the point. Surrounding yourselves with the movers and shakers of your peer group will give you something to strive for as well as connect you with people that could help your career. If you’re new to the area, it’s a great way to meet people in a similar situation. Networking events throughout the year often include active entertainment, like brewery tours or paintballing, so don’t worry too much about the horrifying prospect of having to suit up and make small talk in a quiet room. Plus, YP groups hold seminars and trainings to help you be better at your job — whatever that might be.

Resolution #2: Volunteer

As a recent graduate still waiting to find a grown-up full-time job and staring down the barrel of student loan debt, the last thing you want to do is give away your time and effort for free. But here’s the thing: When you volunteer your professional services (through websites like CatchaFire.org or Idealist.org), you use your skills for a good cause, get real-world experience, and have a little something to throw in your portfolio. Even if you’re working full time, you could look to volunteering to strengthen a skillset or just to lend a hand.

Resolution #3: Ask More Questions

When you’re the new kid on the cubicle block, you don’t want to seem as naive and inexperienced as you might be. So, you nod along to the lingo and fake your way through, hoping it’ll all make sense soon. This year, ask more questions. Ask what the acronyms mean, ask how your co-workers landed in their current role, ask how the company makes money, or anything else you think would help you to find your place in the company a little better. Your co-workers won’t think you’re foolish — they’ll think you’re engaged.

Resolution #4: Make A 5-Year Plan

Before you get too stressed out, recognize that plans can change as your goals naturally evolve — what seems like your ideal career now might not be so appealing after you give it a go for a few years. Nonetheless, build some goals for how far you want to progress in your role, and how you’re going to do it, such as additional trainings or projects to complete. Also set financial goals, and really adhere to these. Start a retirement account (your potential 401K isn’t a guarantee, and isn’t intended to be your only means of retirement). When do you need a new car? When are you hoping to buy a home? Use that time frame to decide how much money you set aside each month to make those purchases and down payments.