12/04/2012 04:38 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2013

Best Holiday Career Gifts for Yourself

Holiday shopping is in full swing right now as the masses brave the retail frenzy to find the perfect gifts. In the spirit of giving, be sure to include yourself on your holiday wish list, because you deserve special consideration this season.

If you have been job searching or career reinventing this year, you have been working very hard to make changes in your life for the better. Chances are you have also ridden the emotional rollercoaster of success and disappointment. Remind yourself that it's not the destination that counts, but the journey.

Designing your career destiny takes courage, strength and commitment. As you look to celebrate all that you've accomplished in 2012, consider the following gifts to yourself that cost nothing but are truly priceless.

By giving yourself permission to make changes, asking for what you want and defining success on your own terms, you have taken the power you deserve to do great things. It all starts with using the tools that you need to succeed. Permitting yourself to do what you need to move forward paves the road and allows others to commit to your success. By giving yourself permission to use your power helps you to operate from a position of strength.

Give yourself permission to:
• Ask for what you need in your workplace to make you more successful.
• Pursue professional development opportunities to keep your skills sharp and competitive so you can grow your career as you wish.
• Say "NO" every now and again so you can prioritize yourself at work and home more than you do right now.
• Give up the guilt when considering what you really need to be gratified.

Self-efficacy is a gift that you must give yourself since it can't come from any other source. While you can start with affirmations and positive thinking, self-confidence is truly realized when you set and accomplish goals. Start with baby steps and take stock of where you have been in addition to where you want to go. Look back at this year and make a list of all the things you have accomplished -- great and small. It's important to celebrate your achievements as this gives you energy to pursue new goals.

Not only is self-confidence good for you -- it's good for those around you like your family, friends and colleagues. Confidence is infectious and an employable characteristic that resonates in the workplace. You deserve to enjoy your self-confidence because you earned it.

Unleash your self-confidence by:
• Applying for that very appealing new job even if you don't have every single qualification listed in the job description.
• Negotiating your raise from a position of strength.
• Asking for help when you need it. Confident people are not afraid to seek assistance.
• Walking tall, being decisive and making eye contact with those in your world.

Play to Your Strengths
Strengths are skills and competencies you enjoy using so much that they give you energy. As you look to the New Year, promise yourself that you will play to your strengths 80% of the time in your personal and professional world. Life is too short to be focusing on tasks that deplete your energy. Minimize your weaknesses because you are not broken and spend your precious time sharpening your strengths.

Playing to your strengths will reduce your stress and ramp up your work and life satisfaction immeasurably. You have a lot more control utilizing your strengths than you believe so consider this a gift of professional wellness and personal gratification.

Showcase your strengths by:
• Delegating work tasks not in your wheelhouse to others who will relish a new opportunity to shine.
• Designing a new job description that focuses on what you do really well that is of value to your organization.
• Volunteering for new projects that honor what you do well so you can manage up and show your boss that you are ready for new challenges.

Dream Big
What would you dream of doing career wise if you had no limitations? Often the limits are not insurmountable and you can pursue the dream career scenario if you are willing to try. If you can envision it, you can make it happen. Dreaming allows you to imagine and create what you want to accomplish.

Chronicle those aha moments when inspiration strikes. Dreaming is cathartic, motivating, and energizing so be sure to include this in your personal career gift basket this holiday.

Start career dreaming by:
• Creating a vision board to ponder the possibilities.
• Write your career dreams down and say them out load so others know your plans and can keep you accountable.
• Seek out mentors and sponsors whose advice and counsel may help you achieve your dreams.
• Being willing to take a risk on something new. By expanding your comfort zone you just may discover something wonderful.

As you wrap the presents, decks the halls, and take care of everyone else this holiday - don't forget how important you are in the equation. Focus on what you need and celebrate all that you do. You deserve great things this New Year as you design your career destiny so it doesn't happen by default. This is the greatest gift of all.

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 Career & Professional Development and Adjunct Faculty at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and hosts the national CBS Radio Show Career Coach Caroline on Tuesdays at 5pm ET Caroline also contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, and More Magazine online.