New Year = New Plan! 5 Tips to Kick-Start Your Career

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As we close the chapter on another year, it’s time to take stock of where you were and where you’re headed. Maybe you had a great year and got a strong performance review from your boss, were told to step it up, or met performance goals but know you could have contributed more. However successful this past year was for you, now is the perfect moment to pause. Think about how to elevate your game and raise the bar on your performance in the New Year.

In addition to our 5 Tips to Maximize Productivity, here are five quick tips that will help get the year off to a great start. Your goal should be to kick-start your career towards increased success and professional advancement.

1. Play to Your Strengths

Frequently, we focus on our weaknesses and not our strengths. While you cannot ignore areas that you know or were told need improvement – like having strong technical skills when crunching the numbers, being more strategic in supporting your clients, and doing critical background research for a new project – figure out where you excel.

If you’re great at speaking to clients, giving presentations, or pulling together the team’s work, then incorporate more of that into how you “show up” at work. You can start to shine when you contribute in ways that underscore your unique value and the skills you bring to the office.

2. Go One Level Up – Do Higher Level Work

While taking on more responsibility may not free you from your daily responsibilities and could require extra time at the office, offer to take on more responsibilities. Lighten your boss’ load and make life easier for her by taking a few things off of her plate. Not only will this position you as a team player, but it could allow you to develop more skills as you get out of your comfort zone.

In order to get ahead, you need the skills to warrant a promotion. One of the best ways to develop professionally is to be proactive in taking on new challenges and expanding your core competencies.

3. Develop Friendships at Work

People often think about networking outside of work. You attend conferences and receptions, you join civic organizations, and you grab drinks with a former colleague to keep the relationship warm. But what about the people you work with on a daily basis? What about the person who rides the elevator with you nearly each morning and works in an area that interests you?

It’s always helpful to network within your organization too. When new opportunities open up, you could be top of mind if you just had lunch with someone in that division. Starting in January, make an effort to grab lunch with someone new at least once a month. Everyone has to eat! Why not eat with people outside of your circle to expand your in-office network.

4. Learn from Your Peers

You’re surrounded by smart people at work. Maybe the person two cubicles down is great at revamping presentations, or a new colleague is impressive when analyzing business opportunities for the company. Be alert and carve out time to learn from them. If you develop a good relationship with them, they might sit down to teach you something new.

Try to get on projects with them and other top talent so you can hone your skills, but keep it mutual. Remember – nobody likes to feel like they’re working with an opportunist or a carpetbagger. If someone is teaching you, then teach them something too! Don’t be greedy. You don’t want to be perceived as a taker and not a giver. If you don’t share, people will figure out how to keep you off of their projects and sideline you.

5. Stop Sweating the Small Stuff

Why are you stressing over things you cannot control or petty things at work? All this does is make you unhappy and probably unenjoyable to be around. Focus on areas where you have influence and leverage. Pay attention to what’s in your wheelhouse and stop fretting over what others are doing. Ask yourself – does it really matter? Are you getting too deep in the weeds? Have you crossed over into the petty zone and gotten away from the big picture? If so, shake it off, release it, and move on!

Too much time and mental energy is wasted on comparing yourself to others, stressing over who got to speak first in a meeting, or wondering why someone didn’t smile back when passing you in the hallway. Obviously, you shouldn’t ignore glaring signs of whether you’re in the “circle of trust” or on the outs. But life would be so much easier if you spent less time poking your nose into things you cannot control, and more time on the quality of work product and implementing your career goals.

By using these five tips in the New Year – or throughout the year – you can better position yourself for career success and increased harmony in the workplace. The best way to get somewhere, is to have a plan, implement change in your life, be proactive about your career, and never be satisfied with just the status quo.


The Azara Group (TAG) is a consulting firm that promotes the development of leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace – providing strategy consulting services and leadership training services to advance professional and life success. TAG leverages expertise in career strategy, diversity, negotiation skills, and business acumen to provide strategic advice and consulting services to help people and organizations get what they want, achieve their goals, and advance their business and career objectives. TAG also helps companies better attract, retain, and promote diverse talent, and develop robust diversity platforms and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace.

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