Off-Target on Your Career Goals? Try Some Spring Cleaning

As the calendar transitions from the waning days of one year into the dawning freshness of a new one, there’s a lot of chatter about setting new goals and making resolutions. Then we settle into our routines. By the second week of February, 80% of us have cast aside those January 1st plans. Perhaps the idea that renewal can only come once a year makes us rush into changes without doing the prep work to make sure they stick. Here’s the good news: There is no shortage of opportunities to make a new run at things. You just have to make the decision to do it. So okay, maybe you need the nudge that a line in the sand can give you. How about this one: With this year’s opening act nearing its end, now is a good time to set second quarter goals. Get ready to dust off your aspirations with a little career spring cleaning so you can relaunch your goals or refocus your attention on new ones.

What Worked?

Getting a new start doesn’t mean you’ve got to scrap everything from Q1. Before you do anything, spend time reviewing what you’ve accomplished since January 1. Have you made progress toward the goals you did set? Are these goals still the right ones for you? Celebrate your wins! Cull lessons from your failures. Rethink your target list and make edits where necessary.

What’s Missing?

At this point you should be able to identify areas where you (or your team) need to beef up some skills to knock the ball out of the park. Now is the ideal time to take that class you’ve been mulling over or to sign-up for the webinar that keeps popping up in your inbox.

Speaking of Your Inbox. . .

If you haven’t touched an email since January 3rd, there’s a good chance you don’t need it. Set aside some time spring cleaning your email folders. Send replies you’ve been sitting on. Unsubscribe from that newsletter you last read in October. Ditch the reminders for the meeting you attended four weeks ago. Create folders to hold onto emails with bits of info you may need to refer to in the future. Getting a handle on your inbox will help you zero in on information you need in a timelier manner, while removing the noise that’s been distracting you. This subtle shift will add time back into your day – time you can use to meet those goals you were just honing.

Social Media Cleanse

When you’re done with your email, turn your focus to your social media channels. The average person spends nearly two hours a day on social media. Social media can be a fantastic tool to build and nurture professional and personal connections, as well as help you keep tabs on topics of interest. To use it in a productive manner, however, you’ve got to take some time to clean up your platforms. Look over the list of who/what you follow. Are these accounts still applicable? Do you find yourself reading the content they each share, or do you scroll by it on your way to something else? Disconnect from or unfollow accounts that aren’t adding value to your feed. Are you consistently missing tweets from your favorite Tweeters? Create a list of “VIP” accounts you’d like to keep up with and start your social media time scrolling through that list instead of your primary Twitter feed. Jump into new groups on LinkedIn and leave groups that aren’t working for you. A good social media cleanse will get you back to focusing on the things that propel you forward and not bog you down by the stuff that’s just eating up time.

Physical Space

Of course, no spring cleaning would be complete without a good desk scrubbing. Toss papers that aren’t needed. Organize your desk so the things you need are in easy reach. Delete old drafts of documents you’ve long since finished; the final copy is enough. A study by Brother International estimated that we waste about 76 hours a year trying to find stuff among the clutter. That’s time we can better use pursuing our goals, right?

Update Your Resume, Passport, Wardrobe

So, maybe you’re not looking for a new job. You’re quite happy where you are. That’s fantastic! Update your resume anyway. Trust me on this one. It may be years before you’re looking for a new opportunity but adding recent accomplishments and job descriptions to your resume today (read: while it’s still fresh in your mind) is something you’ll thank yourself for later. While you’re at it, go through your closet and get rid of those “interview clothes” you haven’t worn in a decade. It’s time to update your professional attire. In the same vein, if your passport isn’t up to date, renew it now. And then visit your LinkedIn page and update your profile. As you’re busy pursuing your goals you may be presented the opportunity to travel, speak, and many other wonderful things. No need to add undue stress by rushing around to update the things you can spend a little time on now.