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Closing out a business year offers the chance to reflect on what you’ve accomplished – or survived – personally and professionally. Many cultures have traditions around the new year that involve cleaning house, eliminating debts, forgiving old slights, and making amends for things they’ve done wrong. There’s something symbolic about turning the page to a new year that makes everyone want to start fresh and make plans to become a better person.
The end of the year is a great time for you to look back and review your accomplishments and strategize for the upcoming year. If the past 12 months seems like an unmemorable blur, you might consider keeping a log of your accomplishments. It can be electronic or written in a journal format. It’s a great way for you to track what you have accomplished at work, what committees or teams you served on, and specific results of projects. Many companies invite input for performance evaluations, and yours will be easy to compile if you keep a record all year. It’s also a great tool for use in updating your resume and in preparing to ask for a raise or promotion.
Once you’ve listed your accomplishments, consider sending thank you notes or emails to people that have helped you over the year. You can also send a note to someone who has inspired you or helped you through a difficult challenge. In business, we traditionally thank customers with cards or small gifts; it’s rare to see someone thank team members in the same way. The Hebrew term for gratitude is hikarat hatov, which means, literally, “recognizing the good.” In today’s hectic business environment, too few people stop to recognize what is good in their lives, which includes coworkers that make you laugh or help you get through the day, or the people who keep your network up and running.
Now that you’ve thanked people who have helped you, ask yourself: Who can I help? Most people make the mistake of thinking networking is about asking for advice and help. Really effective networking begins when you call people to offer them help with special projects or challenges. Who do you know that’s working on a big project, looking for a job, or making a change in his life? Reach out to these people and offer your help in the new year. Offer to connect them with people you know or resources they might not be aware of. You will instantly change the nature of your network and the quality of your business relationships.
As for setting new goals for the new year, aim small. What good habit would you like to start (bringing your lunch instead of eating out every day, answering emails within 12 hours; keeping your inbox clean) or bad habit would you like to stop? Maybe it’s snacking in the afternoon or being late to meetings. Achieving even small goals will build your confidence and sense of progress during the year. Starting with a fresh slate, building or repairing your relationships, and setting goals – looks like it’s going to be a very good year.