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By Meredith Haberfeld for City Atlantic

Winter 2007-2008

Declaring New Year’s resolutions is one thing keeping them is quite another. Most of us have a clear vision of what we want from the future, but few actually take the time to formulate a plan to achieve it. Strategy is key.

The Resolution: Advance My Career

The Advice:

For the Employee

Design your intentions for your career for the year. Create a business plan as though you’re an entrepreneur. Ask for a review and follow through until it is scheduled.

Come to the review with your own ideas of what you can do to develop. Be thoughtful about this. What are the gaps between your current performance and the people both 1 & 2 levels above you? What skill sets do they have that you don’t? Determine them and create and share your plan to resolve the discrepancy.

Also come in to that review with a few highlights of what you have accomplished this past year. The more you can quantify this in dollars and cents or measurable results – the better.

Write down feedback from your supervisors and create an action plan to address each point and set up a meeting to review it with your boss or supervisor.

Dismiss competition. It’s a distraction. Create a big game to go after and play to impress yourself. The most remarkable leaps I have seen people make happen when they re-direct whom they are trying to impress, stop aiming to please their boss, and work every day to impress themselves. Inevitably it is noticed.

For the Entrepreneur

Let your ambition come out. Design your plan for 2008. Pick your top initiatives. Make quarterly targets. Fight like hell to meet them.

Although you have the joy of not having a boss, take time each week to write a weekly business report and send it to someone: your director of operations, your secretary, your spouse. In it, addresses the action items on each initiative with specific deliverable dates. The specific deadlines prove crucial for my clients time after time.

For the Career-Shifter

Figure out your financial plan that will take care of the transition.

Turn on your networking. Resumes and job boards are devastatingly wasteful compared to networking with actual people. Dig through your old contacts and find out what people are up to these days, send emails to say hello, update contact information, send a holiday greeting, or set up a coffee date for the new year.

Aim for one in-person meeting a week just to connect with people who may be relevant to your transition. Meet with no agenda to get a job from them, but instead just to communicate and see what could come of it. You’ll be shocked what lurks within your own contacts when you really take this on.

When aiming for that perfect new job, consider your end target will come as a function of many, many no’s. And the game then becomes: How many no’s can you accumulate while playing at your best? The more you can get in a day or a week, while playing at your peak, the faster you’re advancing your goals.

For Everyone

Let yourself dream. Before you get realistic, pay attention to your desires. One of the things that’s special about extraordinary people is that they listen to their longing even when there is a long list of reasons that they can make for why it’s likely not to turn out.

Do the dreaming and design. Break the dream down into benchmarks with real deadlines and put them right into your calendar so they’re staring back at you.

Be light with yourself about any failures they don’t stop

you unless you sit in them. If need be, shed a tear, moan to a friend, then wipe yourself off, and get back to your game.

Put the past in the past. If you’ve failed at this goal before learn from your mistakes. Face forward into a wide-open future rather than being distracted by the trail you’ve left behind you.

Meredith Haberfeld is an acclaimed Executive Coach in New York City . She can be reached at meredith@meredithhaberfeld.com .