A few years ago, I coached people through a 10-day new year career refresh. This year, I thought I’d round it all up for you in one post. You can do this in one fell swoop or over ten days. Or choose your own adventure and take it at your pace.
What we are doing: we’re going to map out your “Year of Career” through these 10 steps. Every single one gives you an actionable step to get your career moving in this new decade!
Before we get going, let’s lay some ground rules:
- Don’t get ahead of yourself. Take this at your pace.
- If you don’t blaze through this, take a breath and give yourself some grace. You’ll get it done. Step by step.
- Get curious. Get excited about the potential to have life-giving work!
- Grab a friend to do it with. You know you have a friend who hates their job rn…
- If you feel so compelled use #yearofcareer as you share your goals on social media!
1. Take Stock of 2019
WHAT IS LIFE? HOW IS IT 2020?! Well, whether you like it or not, the new year has arrived and it’s time to send 2019 off with a peck on the cheek and a good ol’ pat on the back. Even if she was the worst, she’s over, and it’s time to move on. And in case you were wondering, this year is going to be YOUR year.
The year you wrote down your New Year’s habits….and stuck to them.
The year you decided to make time for family and friends…and not just for your email and social media.
The year you got your health – physical and mental – up and at ‘em (as my mom always said)…and not make any excuses for the contrary.
And yes, the year you LEVEL UP in your career, friend. (You didn’t think I would forget about that did you?!)
For some of you, that may be strategizing on getting that promotion, raise or just more meaningful projects in your current job. For some of you, that may mean changing careers completely! And for others, it may be switching jobs in similar industries because you aren’t necessarily sick of the current tasks in your job, but rather that your company culture or manager isn’t cutting it.
Whatever that may look like for you, I’m here to help. Take stock of 2019 before we move forward into 2020.
2. Set 4 Goals for 2020
If you haven’t done this yet, it’s time to plan out your 2020!
What do you want 2020 to look like for your career? At the end of this year as you take stock of 2020, what do you want to have accomplished? Who do you want to have impacted? What kinds of things would you be proud of? I want you to get out a blank piece of paper and just start brainstorming ideas. What are some things that would make your heart sing every day on your way to work?
3. Plan for a Hobby
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Hobby? Really Jena? How does this relate to my career?”
NOW, BEFORE YOU GET ALL BENT OUT OF SHAPE, HEAR ME OUT.
When I was working as an investment banker, I had NO time for a hobby. None. I was lucky if I had time to eat a balanced meal and get more than 5 hours of sleep a night. Not kidding. I remember that time clear as day and I definitely don’t wish to revisit that time. ALL of my creativity had been zapped from me. I wasn’t able to think creatively and I had become this professional robot. I had no hobbies and no work-life balance. And at the end of the day, I wasn’t a great employee.
Hobbies help breathe life into your days and that helps make you a better employee. So what are you picking up? Cooking, painting, running, reading, learning a new language? The options are endless!
4. Scope Out a Mentor
I have about 10 mentors.
In my personal and professional life, I have a ton of people that I go to for help, advice, and wisdom. I firmly believe that mentorship is the single-most important thing to growing in life and career. It’s helped me mature in leadership skills, in relationships, in vision for the future. Personally, I feel that finding solid mentorship is more important than a degree. It’s more important than any certification program. And it’s more important than any self-help book.
It's kind of a big deal.
So find some real people to have real human conversations with where you can learn from their real life experiences – positive and negative. This, my friends, is the key to success. Here are my tips for how you can make this happen.
5. Feel Free to Be Curious
Remember when you were a kid and someone would ask you, "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
You probably said a teacher or an astronaut or a vet. Or as my sister used to say when she little: a lunch lady. (She was a cute little nugget.)
Those were the days. The days when the world was full of opportunity.
You were excited. You didn’t care what people thought. You didn’t care if your dreams were too lofty. You lived in abundance instead of scarcity. And you were hopeful about the trajectory of your life.
Most of all, you were curious.
Friends, I want you to bring back a bit of that curiosity. Often times, life kicks us when we’re down and we forget to have childlike faith. We forget that life is more than a paycheck. More often than not, we forget to dream. We lose our curiosity because we feel we don’t have the time and we’re scared of what may happen should our “secure jobs” get the best of us.
Except today, I want you to suspend your disbelief. I want you to actually press past that fear and get a little bit curious. This is all about letting your inner kid free and giving yourself permission to think outside the box, if only for a day.
6. Message 3 Randos
Anyone who knows me knows I’m the Queen of Connecting. I LOVE meeting new people. If I could do something all day long, it would be introducing friends to one another and reaching out to people randomly on social media sites.
I’m weird, I know.
Today, I want you to channel your inner Jena and reach out to some folks you don’t know.
Why, you ask?
Well, many people believe that the foundation to your career is your education. This is true. Your education gives you opportunities, lays the groundwork and gives you something to stand on when you don’t have any real world experience. But a foundation without walls is kind of useless. Right? Right. Think of building your network kind of like building walls around your career. Things are going to get rocky, get windy – your network will be something to protect you from those storms. Yes, your education may have gotten you your first job, but your network will provide you with longevity throughout your career.
Here's the problem though: MOST PEOPLE DON’T NETWORK CONTINUALLY.
Think about it. When was the last time you actively tried to meet someone you don’t know in a professional setting? Heck, even in a personal setting?! If you’re anything like my clients or even my friends, you avoid uncomfortable situations like the plague. And I get it. It can feel weird, awkward, assuming, etc. But in order to progress forward, establish long-term security and create opportunity, you’re going to have to get uncomfortable in the short term. Because networking shouldn’t be something you do only when you’re about to change careers.
That's way too late friends.
You want the real answer as to why networking feels awkward and inauthentic? Because for most people it is. By the time they start networking, they are desperate – in need of a job, a sale – whatever it is. And you know what? The person on the other end of the conversation can sense that. And that is VERY unattractive. I want us to look at, in its purest form what networking is. Networking, if done correctly, is simply this: being human.
Networking is simply mutually beneficial relationships built over time. Be human. Build friendships. Give value.
If you’re ready to take your networking to the next level, grab my Foolproof Networking Templates today.
7. Craft Your Elevator Pitch
“So what do you do?”
I swear that was everyone’s favorite question over the Christmas holiday.
And it’s a frustrating question, because it’s not easy to boil down all the things you do in a day to one bite-sized answer. Should I say I’m an entrepreneur? Or should I speak to how I’m basically the CFO, CMO, COO, VP of Client Experience, Chief Content Officer and Head of Product Development? Even when I worked a regular 9-to-5, that question stressed me out. I had multifaceted jobs where I did a lot of things and yet at the same time, it was hard to articulate exactly what I did.
But here’s the deal: we know we need to craft this story. We know we need to have our “elevator pitch” ready at a moment’s notice so when our Great Aunt Jo or boss or pastor or potential employer asks us “What do you do?” – we don’t just sit there dumbfounded.
Or worse – we don’t want to ramble for 40 minutes, boring them to death on our daily routines, spreadsheets and humdrum.
We want to sound impressive, yet at the same time humble and concise.
So how do we do this?
We simplify it. We start at the very essence of our jobs. We understand why the heck we were hired in the first place.
8. Tweak Your Resume
Education at the top.
Education at the bottom.
One page. Two pages.
Include a summary. Don’t include an objection.
Format should be plain. Format should be graphically stimulating.
Dear Lord. Anyone else exhausted yet?!
There are so many schools of thoughts with how your resume should look. It’s kind of like going on a diet. One person will say you need to go vegan and another is die-hard paleo. Who’s right and who’s wrong?
Here are my tips for writing a killer resume in 48 hours (and some beautiful resume templates we made to help you beat the bots!).
9. Just Use LinkedIn
I used to think LinkedIn wasn’t that important. I mean, it’s just a Facebook for your professional life, right?
I didn’t understand how to use my profile.
I was overwhelmed by the job board portion of the site.
INMAIL? What was that?
Psh, I didn’t have time for LinkedIn.
My resume matters more than my LinkedIn so who cares if I don't use it?!
Well, that’s what I thought...until I got really really frustrated in my job search. I felt like I was beating my head against a wall. What job board site should I use? Why was no one getting back to me? Ugh. Setback after setback after setback.
Until one day, I decided it was time to try out this LinkedIn thing. Maybe there was something to this platform.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT Y’ALL? LINKEDIN CHANGED MY ENTIRE OUTLOOK ON MY CAREER.
Instead of staying stuck amidst the roadblocks, I was encouraged by the opportunity. If you don’t know how to use LinkedIn properly, you could be missing out on thousands and thousands of dollars and opportunities. For me, this platform has helped my business explode, my 9-to-5 career grow at a rapid pace, and positioned me as a thought leader in my space. So much so, that I actually get to work with LinkedIn Corporate and their LinkedIn Learning platform on a regular basis.
I believe in LinkedIn so much, I built an entire course to help you to get your profile rocking in under 3 hours!
You see, LinkedIn is a GOLD MINE for job seekers and entrepreneurs! Not only are great companies posting their jobs there, but recruiters are actually on there searching for people just. like. you. The problem is, if you aren’t active on LinkedIn, they may never find you.
Let’s change that! Here are some of my favorite tips for you to get started rocking your LinkedIn:
10. Invest in Yourself & Get Some Help
Too often we don’t pay attention to our careers and how it’s affecting our lives until we can’t get ourselves out of bed in the AM.
Y’all, that is TOO late.
But I get it – I’ve been there. It’s absolutely debilitating. I know what it feels like when you will do anything to not go back to the same job that literally makes you feel like your soul is crushing.
If you are in that place, or feel like you’re headed there, FIRST: know that there is hope! Second: let’s get you some help.
Invest in yourself – counseling, life coaching, career coaching, sabbatical. Maybe there are other ideas that work for you too. It is worth it, friend! I’d love to point you to Season 2 of Your Career Story Podcast – we did a whole season on work-life balance. If you’re looking for a career coach, let’s talk! If you want to do a deeper dive on your LinkedIn, I’ve got you covered.
Know that you are worth investing in. You deserve to love your career and the work you're doing. We can get you there!
GUYS. WE MADE IT.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this journey. It’s been fun sharing it with you, helping you jumpstart your career in 2020.
If you want some further resources to help you keep on going, grab those here.
10 Steps for Your Best Career Year Ever!
January 28, 2020