It's the season for diets, intense exercise regimens and plans to quit unhealthy habits. If the dawn of 2014 has coerced you into extreme new beginnings, I encourage you to start the New Year by being good to yourself, especially as you consider your career future.
Instead of setting unattainable goals that you will most likely abandon by Valentine's Day, consider your professional future and what you really want out of your career this year.
Meditate. First you need to quiet the monkey chatter in your brain. Give yourself a few moments each day to sit peacefully and contemplate nothing. This can be tough, especially for the over-achievers and Type A personalities that rarely sit still -- like me. I promise, self-reflection and meditation will help you achieve the calm so you can listen to yourself and then begin to consider what you really want.
Whether you pursue a guided mindful meditation or simply sit with your eyes closed in your favorite place, try and spend five minutes alone with yourself at least once a day for a week and see how you feel. This will give you the clarity of mind you need to move forward. You might just enjoy it and make it a regular practice.
Clear the Clutter. After you have cleared your brain to make room for new possibilities, you must clear your space. Perhaps your desk is over run with receipts and packing slips for the holiday gifts you want to return. Maybe your closet could benefit from a purging of clothes and shoes you have not worn in a year.
Clearing the clutter from your environment is also a metaphor for opening your world for new opportunities. Financial guru, Suze Orman talks about keeping your wallet clean and tidy to respect your money and welcome abundance. The same follows suit in your professional life. Clear away the obstacles and make room -- emotionally and physically -- for the new possibilities.
Write Your Press Release. I heard Patty Stonesifer, former C-Suite executive at Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, talk about the concept of writing your own press release. She shared a terrific method learned at Amazon where she served on the Board for a decade. Amazon leaders would write internal press releases for new projects and initiatives and then work backwards to implement a plan of action. The press release would not be made public until the project was fully realized but it helped the company and its employees map out strategic plans and start from a point of excitement with a written story.
You have the power to write your own story and then navigate the path to make it a reality. Take a chance and write down your career dreams -- be specific, get excited and then gather your team to strategize a plan to make your press release a reality.
Just Do It! Speaking of plans, I meet so many people with great plans and wonderful ideas, but they don't always take action. Fear can be paralyzing and the thought of failure even more so. Trust me, if you are human, you will fail, but that's OK because you can fail forward and learn from it. The biggest failure is not trying at all and you deserve better.
Nike got it right when they branded the phrase, "Just Do it!" Take action and find an accountability master or a coach to help encourage you and give you support and guidance. Don't get caught in analysis paralysis - take a step forward and do something.
Baby Steps. The New Year, New Career ideas can be daunting, so remember: Small, incremental steps will still move you forward towards your goals. If you aspire to write the next best-selling novel, write a little bit each day and enjoy the major progress you accomplish after a month. You need not set monumental goals; start small and be realistic, since accomplishing the small steps should make you feel great.
Be Grateful. November is a year away, but Thanksgiving need not be a once-a-year holiday. Contemplate what you are grateful for each day and also focus on how you are helping others. Paying-it-forward is a wonderful way to show your gratitude and share your talents and time with others. When you recognize what you have it makes the pursuit of your dreams all the more sweet.
Best wishes for a 2014 filled with good health, great joy, and career abundance!
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is the Director of Professional Enrichment at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, and More Magazine. She is working on a 3-pert series for Public Television on career empowerment for women. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.