Is getting a better job or improving your current work situation on your list of resolutions this year? Since most resolutions are totally forgotten by mid-February, I suggest you try making some "un-resolutions" instead.
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What's an un-resolution? It's a list of things you want to stop doing! Sometimes, not doing something is more critical to your success than doing something.
Here are five un-resolutions you can make for your 2017 job search so you actually end up with the role you want:
1. Don't Be So Hard on Yourself
We all do it. Every now and then, we compare ourselves to others, beat ourselves up for not being further along financially, and then start frantically searching for a way to get back on track.
Next time you find yourself on the comparison wagon, take a deep breath and just jump off. This type of behavior is extremely destructive. Recognize that you are a unique person with unique gifts to offer the world. Then, get into a position that capitalizes on those gifts. When you're doing work you love, you'll understand what being ahead feels like.
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2. Stop Spinning Your Wheels
"I found my dream job by applying to every job that seemed remotely interesting," said no happily employed person ever. When you resolve to get a new job, you feel like you constantly have to be doing something. Usually, this means searching online for job openings and applying.
At first it feels great. You're hopeful that your perfect job is out there and that your cover letter and resume get noticed.
The sad truth is that, after a while, this strategy can backfire if the response rate to your applications is low. You might even start to question your own worth. Did you know that 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking? This means the odds are somewhat stacked against you when you apply to a job online. Instead, be targeted in your search. Get strategic and start networking with people you want to work with. You'll feel more in control, and you're more likely to end up with a job that feels like it was made for you.
3. Stop the Clock
We live with enough self-imposed deadlines in life. Drop five pounds by Friday. Get engaged by the summer. Make a million by 30. You'd love to have found the perfect job by yesterday, but the truth is it takes a lot of trial and error. Not to mention the right job for you two years ago may not be the right job for you now. As we evolve, so does what we find fulfilling and motivating. Recognize that you are on a journey and that while the destination is important, it's also a moving target.
4. Don't Assume the Grass Is Always Greener
When you're unhappy with a situation, the natural impulse is to move on. Before you jump to the conclusion that the perfect job is waiting for you somewhere else, take stock of what is truly good in your current situation. Outline what you'd like to change and areas where you'd like to grow. Find a mentor in your organization who can help you achieve the change and growth you're seeking.
Unless your situation is truly horrible, leaving isn't always the best option for growth. Most people think it's not possible to ask for more, but what's stopping you? What's the worst that someone will say? "No"? If you've been a productive employee, your desire for more responsibility and more financial reward may be welcomed. You just might find yourself supported by a manager who puts a plan in place to help you! If you don't ask, you'll never know.
5. Stop Being So General
Many people may tell you they're not satisfied professionally. They can complain about salary, managers, and not getting ahead. But if you ask them what it is they really want, you might find their answers surprisingly vague. Better pay, more respect, more responsibility – but what do those things really mean? Will what it takes to have those things really make someone happier in the long run? Not usually.
Until you're able to be very specific about what you're looking for, you may end up with something that seems better but is really just different. Before you start a new job search, be clear on the skills you want to utilize, the environment you want to work in, and the end goal you want to accomplish. Everything else in your search should be informed by those answers. The result? You'll know what you're going after, and you'll be able to be very targeted in your job search. You'll also be able to clearly articulate your value and what you're looking for, which means you'll likely end up much happier in your work!
A version of this article originally appeared on Atrium Staffing's blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing's resident career expert.