7 New Year's resolutions for your career

By Anne Fisher, contributor

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- If you're like many of Katy Piotrowski's clients, the past year of economic chaos and workplace uncertainty has caused you to forget about career advancement and focus instead on just surviving. That's a natural response, of course.

But, says Piotrowski, a Colorado-based executive coach and author of "The Career Coward's Guide to Career Advancement" (Jist, $10.95), progress "is still important and attainable, even when the job market seems to be shrinking."

The best part is, you don't need to do anything radical: Piotrowski says that even small steps can yield surprising results, like more job security and, yes, even better job offers. Four ways to get going:

1. Join, and be active in, an association. If you're already a member of one or more, join another, "whether it's a professional group tied to your field or a local civic organization like Rotary," she says. "Their get-togethers force you to meet new people and learn new things."

2. Use all your talents. Maybe you're a good writer, but that isn't part of your job description. Piotrowski urges you to "compose articles that highlight your expertise and submit them to websites, blogs, and publications that can benefit from your know-how." Or let's say you're skilled at planning: "Put together an improvement proposal for some aspect of your job, and present it" to decision-makers. Putting all of your abilities to work will challenge you -- and get you noticed.

3. Create a list of 20 professional successes you accomplished in 2009. "Scan your calendar, status reports, and computer files to remind yourself of what you've faced and handled," Piotrowski suggests. "Then jot down a few key pieces of data about each success, including things like money saved and customers affected." She calls this a "success database", a valuable tool for writing a new resume, preparing for job interviews, and "reminding yourself that your career is making a difference." Who couldn't use a confidence-builder right about now?

4. Keep repositioning the "golden ring." A couple of years ago, before the recession started, you probably had a goal in mind. Whether or not you've already reached it, Piotrowski recommends that you take some time to reflect on "what will inspire you and jazz you career-wise in the future. Then jot down a new set of goals to keep you moving ahead."

Duncan Mathison, a career coach and co-author (with Martha I. Finney) of "Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times Are Tough" (FT Press, $16.99), says there are three things you can do right now, today, to start you off right in 2010:

1. Shift your attention from the expedient to the important. "A real career disabler is choosing to focus first on the things you can get off your plate first, regardless of their importance," Mathison observes. "Instead, do what's most important first, and put off the unimportant -- even if it will 'just take a minute.'" Doing the things that best serve your career goals before you do anything else, he says, will keep you from frittering away precious time and energy on non-essentials.

2. Have a conversation with your manager about your job, your career goals, and where he or she sees you headed in the future. "Take the guesswork out of where you stand," Mathison suggests -- again, so you can devote more attention to what matters, which is where you're going next, either at this company or elsewhere.

3. Let go of the old and embrace the new. Change is tough, and there's been too much of it in recent months, but Mathison urges you to work up some genuine enthusiasm for new projects and ways of doing things, if you possibly can. "Don't take a 'wait and see' attitude," he says. "Gracefully end conversations with colleagues that involve whining about the good old days." They're gone.

Happy New Year to all!

Talkback: Have you made any New Year's resolutions regarding your career? How do you hope your employment situation will change in 2010? Tell us on Facebook, below. To top of page

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET


Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.