As 2018 comes to a close, career reflection is the most important thing you can do to prepare for the year ahead. It offers you the opportunity to look back, see what goals you already met, and figure out where you’re at with regards to your long-term goals (or whether they need to evolve).
Here are the questions you should be asking before you set your career resolutions for 2019.
Does your work matter?
Be honest in answering this fundamental question. Because if the answer is no, then nothing else really matters. Your happiness, both personal and professional, will come from doing work that you care about, and one way to answer this question is to take stock of your accomplishments. Write up a list of all that you have achieved and then ask yourself what they mean to you, personally and professionally. Do they matter to those around you? Do they matter to your employer? Do they matter to society? If you start here and can honestly say that your work matters, you’re well on your way to a rewarding career.
Have you kept up with how technology is impacting your field?
We live in a world of constant change. Those skills you acquired last year might be obsolete by this year or next. Rapid changes in technology are keeping everybody in a continuous state of learning and in a perpetual need to acquire new skills. Whether you are in a field driven by technology, or whether technology is just a part of your industry, you need to update and advance your tech skills at all times.
When you look back on the past year, ask yourself if you managed to keep up with the technological changes in your field. If you did, that’s probably not good enough. You need to get ahead of the changes, anticipate what new changes might be coming, and prepare for them. Your career will fast-track itself when your professional peers see you as the technology driver. Do everything you can in the upcoming year to stay ahead of the tech game, including investing time and resources in your skills.
What is your career trajectory?
Did you work all of this year without giving much thought to where you will be down the road? Where will you be in five years? Ten years? To get to where you want to be, you need to identify where you need to be at various stages of your career.
Start this process by looking around and seeing where your more experienced coworkers are at, and think about whether that’s where you want to be. If so, ask what they did to get to where they are today. What roles and responsibilities did they take on? What skills did they acquire along the way? How did they network and get those responsible for their career development to notice and advance their careers? From that learning, map out your game plan so that you don’t leave your career advancement to chance.
Is your financial well-being where it needs to be?
Money won’t dictate whether or not you’ll find satisfaction at work, but it’s still imperative to your overall well-being. At the end of the year, you should be conducting regular reviews of your salary, bonus, retirement contributions, and healthcare benefits so you can ensure that you’re earning what you deserve. The best way to evaluate this is to do your homework. Go online and research jobs like yours and learn what employees in other companies are earning. Check out jobs posted and what employers are paying for those jobs. You want to be earning to your maximum potential because many organizations base future promotions and salary increases on your current financial package. If you are not making what you should be, you should set some time to have an honest conversation with your boss in the new year.
Just like everything else in life, career success and satisfaction won’t come without strong intentions on your part. But you also need to make sure that you’re setting (and implementing) the right ones. That starts with asking questions.