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Tips for Making 2014 the Best Year of Your Career

Hannah P. Morgan

Instead of making and breaking your new year's resolution, approach the new year with a new method of making improvements to your life and career. Only 8 percent of Americans actually achieve their new year's goals, according to a recent study by University of Scranton.

Here are some ideas to help you establish habits that will stick, and maintain focus for the best year ever.

Revel in the glory. Maybe last year was great. If you had a stellar year and met all your quotas, or most of them, document it. Add your achievement to your LinkedIn profile right now, before you forget. Capture it with a photo or screen shot of the award and upload it under your most recent job. Be sure to thank people who helped make it possible. Thanking others is a great way to demonstrate your gratitude. If you want to continue on this same successful path, focus on what you excelled at doing. What skills or talent got you there? Do more of that. This sounds simplistic, but sometimes we get so caught up in "fixing" ourselves and taking on the next new challenge that we overlook the good stuff. Part of managing your career is actually documenting it and letting people know.

Out with the old, in with the new. This well-known principle implies that you'll ditch the old and embrace the new. But don't throw away the good old stuff - in other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Getting rid of the old means making changes, and that can be difficult. It requires breaking old habits and retraining your brain. Some experts say it takes about 30 days to form a new habit, so whatever "new" thing it is you want to try, incorporate it into your daily ritual. For example, if you are one of those people who runs late consistently, it isn't enough to want to be on time or say you'll be on time. You'll have to adjust your behavior and start a different ritual so that you arrive to places when you should. Whatever new resolution you plan to hold on to requires your commitment and replacing the bad habit with the new ritual. Start small and keep at it.

Abandon goal-setting. Goals are supposed to be measurable and timely, but setting smart ones can be really difficult. What if you just had guiding principles, or a mantra, to guide you through your next year? There wouldn't be any complicated details to keep track of; all you have to do is play by the rules you've established for yourself. You could start by documenting your three words for 2014. Chris Brogan, CEO and president of the publishing and media company Human Business Works, initiated this tradition several years ago as a way to focus his life. In his "My Three Words for 2014" post on his website, Brogan writes: "The idea is that the words you choose will go past being a simple goal and will become part of the way you identify yourself, and thus, a guiding light for your efforts. ... use the words as triggers for actions you intend to take, and maybe other actions you seek to avoid."

Are you ready to write down your three words and commit to them?

Albert Einstein's definition of insanity. According to Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting different results. Get off the gerbil-wheel of insanity and do something - anything - differently. In a job search, this may mean abandoning job boards for 30 days and replacing it with in-person, targeted networking. In managing your career, it may mean having that difficult, uncomfortable conversation with your manager, discussing what it will take to earn a promotion or possibly, if you need to take on more responsibilities. Whatever rut you find yourself in, take that one step to break the cycle and do something differently. What will that be?

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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