New Year, New You – and New Career?

No matter what your personal religious, political, or social views are, we can all agree on one thing: 2016 was a tough year. Friends and families were pulled apart by political differences. Workers went through difficult corporate layoffs and restructurings. Violence and death appeared daily in the news.

It's been rough – very rough.

In fact, many people are opting to take breaks from social media just to regroup. Others are refocusing on eating healthy and taking care of themselves. They're using their time to prepare for a better, more positive year in 2017.

This is one of those times when I feel extra thankful for fresh starts. And what better way to begin again than with a few new year's resolutions! Rather than focusing on things outside of your control, it's time to reflect on what is inside of your sphere of influence. As you can guess, I recommend your career be placed at the very top of your list.

Your career has a very direct and immediate impact on your daily life. It can affect your financial well-being, your personal stress, and the general fulfillment you feel.

Transforming Your Career in 2017

Take inventory of what's working in your career and what you'd like to change. Do you want to land a promotion? Would you like to make more money, work in a different industry, or live in a different city? Are you looking for better work/life balance? Would you prefer to use your strengths in a different way?

There's no right answer when it comes to deciding what's important in your career and your life. The most important thing is to be in touch with what matters to you. From there, you can set goals.

But don't fool yourself. Career transformation is a process. It rarely happens overnight, and it's certainly not easy.

First, prioritize your goals by determining the most important ones. Then break them down into steps. Perhaps one goal is to update your LinkedIn profile. One step might be to take a new photo; another step might be to add your latest job title and accomplishments.

Breaking your goals down into bite-sized pieces makes them more attainable. Attaching those goals to due dates will help you hold yourself accountable.

Whatever path you choose to pursue in the new year, start strong. Companies really do begin hiring in January, so don't put off the changes you want to make. Put failure out of your mind. Acknowledge that the effort is the most important part of the entire process. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Moving up in your career is rarely a goal achieved alone. It takes great managers, mentors, friends, confidants, coaches, and family members.

I'm certain that with a little effort and teamwork, we can make 2017 brighter all the way around.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.