If there’s any group of individuals that needs a plan of action for the new year, it’s diverse professionals. Simply put, the rules for success and the barriers to progress are just not the same as mainstream professionals promote as the norm. In general, women and minorities have to work harder and be more focused than their counterparts to realize their personal and professional goals. It’s popular to make a plan for the new year, though you can make mini-plans for each month, too.
Consider three areas of your life when charting your course. Then identify one or two activities in each area in which you can take realistic steps to realize change within the constraints of your current conditions. These are the primary areas in which you should focus your attention, time, and energy:
Invest in your personal well-being
Develop and deepen meaningful relationships
Work with a Purpose
If there’s any individual who’s the most important yet most neglected, it’s likely yourself. This is especially the case for professionals with families. Professional women who are mothers have come in with the greatest deficit of attention on themselves. They commute, they work at their job, then they have a host of demands to fulfill at home, as well.
Personal well-being is not necessarily about gathering more material goods. After a certain point, more money or another car or yet another outfit does not bring proportional fulfillment. Instead, time and attention on yourself and just yourself can pay huge dividends in your self-esteem, sense of life-balance, and inner-quietude.
Something as simple as carving out a few minutes each day to be alone to indulge in what gives you a child-like pleasure can be incredibly refreshing. It may be a yoga class, or reading the daily newspaper (in print!) in a cafe, or grabbing a beer with buddies helps you reconnect with yourself. Whatever it is, mark it as an appointment in your journal that you must keep.
Sometimes we all need to triage the relationships in our lives. Some relationships may not fulfill us, yet fill our time. Some are toxic, while we know we should pursue others that help us feel refreshed, energetic, and optimistic about life. This simplified set of criteria applies as much to work as it does to life. After all, work isn’t just about making money. That said, with women around the world making on average 20- to 30-percent less than men, compensation has become a way to gauge the extent to which organizations value their efforts and professionalism.
No matter your salary condition, though, it’s critical the people around us support our growth as unique individuals and help us feel our contributions are worthwhile. If you’re not getting those feelings from your work environment, perhaps it’s time to include in your plan a job search.
The majority of workers are bored with their jobs. Boredom breeds ennui, a sense of futility and meaninglessness. The feeling that what you’re doing at work does not matter creates a breeding ground for depression and anxiety. Extended bouts of depression and angst are clear signs that the body (and mind) offer us that we need to change our condition. This is when meaningful relationships can play a key role in realizing our deeply-held wishes: reach out to someone or to some group that nourishes you, not puts you down or “in your place”.
Use active imagination and talking with others who want to be supportive of your expression in the world. Day-dreaming will help you to formulate the “perfect” job for yourself. Sharing your thoughts with others will help you put words to your ideas and help bring the ideas down to the ground. The goal is to create income-generating activities that give you joy, a sense of place and contribution, and pay the bills.
Investing in yourself, developing meaningful relationships, and creating work that gives you a sense of purpose should be fundamental elements as you create your plan for the new year. On a monthly basis, check your plan against reality and make adjustments, if necessary. And keep in mind: change takes time to realize, so go easy on yourself.