Tony Robbins said, "Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible."

If you're planning to step it up in your career this year, you're in good company. According to one statistic, almost half of Americans set yearly goals. And, while admittedly, not all of them follow through, with some persistence and planning, you can increase the odds that you will successfully achieve yours.

If you're trying to figure out the perfect strategy to take your career or business to the next level, consider one of these possibilities:

1. Pick up a new skill.

In my work with professionals, many talk about a desire to continue their education. However, fewer actually make it enough of a priority to do something about it. Instead, they get caught up with their daily demands, letting their desire for professional development fall by the wayside. If that sounds like you, resolve to take action this year. And remember, small steps count. Sign up for a conference, read a book, work with an executive coach, experiment with new behaviors, or enroll in a class. Next year at this time, you'll be able to look back with a sense of pride for the progress you made.

2. Seek feedback.

If you're not sure which areas you should be working to develop, seek feedback. If you have the opportunity to go through a formal 360 review process within your company, then by all means, sign up to get in-depth perspectives from a wide range of people. If that's not possible, then select three to five people you trust and ask them for candid feedback regarding your strengths and areas for development.

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This might help you to uncover some blind spots and also give you some ideas for further goals to you set. One research study found that leaders who ask for feedback are significantly more effective than those who don't. So, if you want to improve, don't be shy about asking!

3. Build your network.

You've heard it a thousand times: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." While this statement is often said by people who are frustrated that they aren't getting ahead at the rate they would like, the reality is that having more relationships puts you in a better position to hear about opportunities, influence others, and get quality feedback. Plus, research shows that workplace friendships can help you to be more productive.

So, be more intentional about cultivating relationships at work. Take the time to chat with others throughout the day. Set aside time on your calendar to have lunch with co-workers. Be more proactive about mingling at conferences. Or, if you work for yourself, make sure not to isolate yourself. It's an easy thing to do (especially if you're introverted). Make sure you block out time to connect with others by joining meetup groups and having in-person meetings. While you obviously still need to tend to the main responsibilities of your job, having a broader range of relationships will likely help you at work and increase your overall quality of life.

4. Use your time for only the activities that promote your highest and best.

Do you tend to procrastinate? Are you reluctant to delegate? Or, do you burn yourself out by not taking enough breaks? Time is a limited commodity, and if you aren't making the best use of yours, then you're limiting your productivity.

Set aside a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect on how you spent your time. Were there tasks that you should have delegated to others? Did you spend too much time surfing the internet? Were you less effective than you could have been because you didn't get enough sleep the night before? Armed with that information, you can make changes that will help you to get the most out of the time in your workday.

5. Develop a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness—or the ability to remain without judgment in the present moment—has been shown to have numerous benefits in the workplace. Just a few of these are better job performance, increased job satisfaction, and reduced emotional exhaustion and increased focus.

Mindfulness is sweeping the business world, as many professionals have experienced the benefits mindfulness has had on their work and their lives. If you want to take you career to the next level, start an easy mindfulness practice by setting aside five minutes a day to get comfy, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. It's simple. But it works. If you think you might need some accountability to keep yourself on track, take a mindfulness course.

Author Karen Lamb wrote, "A year from now you may wish you had started today." Why not preclude that regret? Today is the day to begin creating the life you want.


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