Welcome to December when the stress of organising everything for the festive and holiday season is compounded by the pressure to complete work projects and ensure the year's goals have been met.
Janet Tuck, career specialist at Career Clinic, recommends that before the silly season really kicks in, people take the opportunity to reflect on how the work year has gone and evaluate progress made. She says there are two main aspects to review — the first being taking some time to think about how you've done in your current role.
"Take some time to review your job description and think about your successes in meeting the requirements, things you've done well and things you are proud of. Take note of any shortfalls and aspects that you'd like to change or improve on next year." Tuck suggests noting down both the positives and the negatives so they can be referred to in the new year.
The second point to consider is the progression of your career over the year.
"In many ways, this is more important to you personally because work satisfaction is very much linked to job engagement," she explains.
"If you can see you're making progress and getting opportunities to grow and develop, you're more likely to be enthusiastic about your actual job."
The challenge with any evaluation at this time of the year however, is what to do about it? Tuck notes that the end of the working year is not a good time of year to approach an employer to discuss things, "because they will also be tired, and busy thinking about finishing well and getting things done. If things have not been going well at work, make the most of the Christmas break to rest and recharge your batteries so you are more likely to have energy to invest in some good conversations and make good decisions in the new year."
Tuck says it's a good idea to try not to dwell too much on the negatives at this stage, because you won't have the opportunity to make many changes.
"It is better to simply write down your thoughts now, then use them at the start of the new year to show how you want to be proactive and start on a positive note. You're much more likely to be met with a positive response when everyone is feeling fresh and enthusiastic after a good break."
"However," she notes, "this is a great time of year to start thinking about your career and working out what you want to change or further develop. If you're re-evaluating things, a visit to an independent careers adviser can help you work out what is working and what is not, and more importantly, why things are not working."
Tuck says you can expect to discuss a wide variety of topics with a careers advisor and come away with a much clearer idea of career direction and possibilities for yourself. "You should also come away with a plan that you can use to make good career decisions in the new year. The process is really helpful because it gives you a strategy that you can use to make changes."
There will be many who have been feeling stressed and overburdened at work this year, and Tuck says there are strategies that can be put in place towards reducing work stress in the coming year.
"First, take some time to identify what is actually causing stress. Awareness is the key to doing something about it," she notes.
This is a great time to start thinking about your career and working out what you want to change or further develop.
"When I work with clients, I use a simple checklist to explore possible causes, whether physical, mental, or the actual job itself. There are some relatively simple changes that can help you manage better. Things like changing some lifestyle factors or learning better time management skills can make a big difference."
For those who feel they haven't been putting their best foot forward due to a lack of motivation at work, Tuck has tips for making a plan to work more productively and feel more fulfilled at work next year.
"I'm a big fan of goal setting, but you need to be very clear about what you want to achieve, and chunk it down into manageable steps. SMART goals help with this because they make you get specific about what you are actually going to do and give you a way to actually measure your progress."
To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:
• Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
• Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
• Achievable (agreed, attainable).
• Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
• Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).