Posted by Robert Half on 27 January 2016
2016 may be the year of the monkey, but it’s no time for monkey business.
Time to stop monkeying around! With Chinese New Year upon us, it’s time to review your resolutions and a reassess your career aspirations. The start of the year is the best time to put your career under the microscope and ask yourself some searching questions to prepare you for the months ahead.
Here are five that can help you identify areas for possible improvement.
1. Would I consider myself a leader or a follower?
The year of the Fire Monkey is one for trailblazers, which is great if you’re a leader! Continue on the path to growth and don’t let your own personal inhibitions stand in the way of your achievements. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, try moving off the beaten track. For example, get creative with new methods and ways of managing your team, dealing with workplace conflict, or simply try a new tact when handling difficult colleagues. There are always improvements that can be made, so never stop striving to be better than you were yesterday.
If you’ve always been content with being the follower, perhaps it’s time that you reviewed your career goals and what it would take to actively pursue them. You could start by requesting more responsibilities at work, or look at areas where you can contribute more to the company. It’s also a good idea to assess your growth options in your current organisation. If you’re working in an MNC where requesting a move to a different region is a possibility, it may prove to be a great learning experience for you. And once the powers that be has deemed you worthy, you’ll definitely be allowed more freedom to test your mettle in new areas.
2. Am I delivering at work?
There never seems to be enough time to do all the things we want to do, but being productive is about being time-efficient, rather than simply taking on anything and everything. As the saying goes, you only live once, so you might as well make use of your time while you have it. Learn to prune your working methods so that you eliminate bad habits that waste valuable time and energy, while putting your efforts into the things that count. Working smart can help you achieve so much more than just hard work alone.
Being productive also means being able to focus on the things that matter, both in your workplace and at home. Everyone deserves some time to relax and recharge themselves, and nobody should have their nose to the grindstone 24/7. If a certain activity brings you joy and enriches your life, it’s time well spent.
The Lunar New Year is a time for spring cleaning – not just your home, but your mind as well. Worrying isn’t productive; aim to fix problems without stressing over them. When you’re calm and at peace, the path will be clear for you to forge ahead without getting caught up with minor setbacks in the pursuit of your career aspirations.
3. Are the people around me helping me to move up in my career goals?
At the core, we’re social creatures. Aim to fill your life with people whom you can count on, who will encourage you on your journey up the career ladder. Appoint a mentor or coach who can identify areas where you’re lacking and help to put you on the track. And of course, it helps to have supportive family members with whom you can share your dreams. Once you have that, you’re all set for nailing those career goals.
Life’s too short for negativity. Toxic people and environments will only set you back in your career aspirations. If your office atmosphere breeds unhappiness and discouragement instead of positivity, it’s time to either take a strong stance against it. If that fails, consider making a move to a place where your contributions are appreciated and where you’re motivated by more than just remuneration.
4. Am I prosperous in other areas of my life besides my finances?
”If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.” – Chinese Proverb
Wealth isn’t everything. It’s no point slaving away at work every day and night only to miss out on valuable time with your family. If you have zero work life balance, perhaps it’s time to adjust your career aspirations. You can start by identifying whether you can put your salary to good use on the things that you want.
Think of your bucket list – has your career helped you tick off items on the list? What more do you see yourself accomplishing on this trajectory? If you’ve always wanted to travel, make sure you plan your leave dates wisely. If you’d like to spend more time with your loved ones, then maybe explore flexible working arrangements with your manager.
If there’s a key takeaway in this post, it is this: Smart professionals build their careers to empower them to be able to do the things they want to do, whether directly or indirectly.
5. Do I love what I do?
You don’t have to be enthusiastic or love your job every moment of every day, but it should at least be a positive experience most of the time. If you’re finding it harder and harder to take pride in what you do, perhaps it’s time to ask why. Is it the work you do that you’re not content with, or are there other factors affecting you? Whatever the reason, if your job isn’t one that’s fulfilling, changes are needed. There’s no need for a complete career overhaul, but you can always make adjustments to improve the situation.
The traits of the monkey include curiosity and a quick wit, so it’s a great time to incorporate those characteristics into your arsenal this year. Embrace your inner monkey and set yourself up for a year of prosperity in 2016.