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Dear Shannon

Dear Shannon: How to make and keep a career resolution

The two questions you must answer to make a tangible impact in 2017.

Almost every time I speak to a new client about why they want to move into an impact-driven career, they say, "I want to make a difference." Sound familiar? As you think about your 2017 resolutions, why not set a goal to finally make that difference: to find a job that will empower you to do the work you really want to do and make an impact.

You already may have a sense of what it is you really want, but to make this resolution last all of 2017, you need to get specific. Here are some tips on how to make a New Year’s resolution that inspires you to get a truly fresh start this January.

Listen to your inner voice to be true to your purpose

Get out a pen and paper, because I want you to ask yourself two questions.

  1. How is success (or making a difference) defined for you? What does it look like? Draw a picture if you are a visual person. Or write down one word or a short sentence (mantra). You can always change it later, but the first thing that comes to mind is probably the most authentic.
  2. You have a distinctive set of strengths that make you unique. Do you know what these are? Write down three words that define you, make you unique and are core to your true self.

These reflections are meant to help you build your personal mission statement, a universal statement about who you are and what you are on this planet to do. If these questions are hard to answer, don’t worry. You are not alone. Research has found that fewer than 20 percent of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose. And even fewer still can distill their purpose into a concrete statement.

Take some time to listen to your inner voice and clearly define your mission. Remember, don’t define your purpose by what you think it should be. Frame it around the "who" you can’t help being. 

Don’t define your purpose by what you think it should be. Frame it around the 'who' you can’t help being.

What you love doing is your commercial potential

Once you have a strong sense of your purpose, it’s time to start thinking about how you can harness that passion and bring it to the real world: How can you use your personal mission to affect change? How can you find a job to help foster that purpose and grow your potential?

Start off by clearly identifying the things you are good at. Looking back on your career, think about your skills and the times you have excelled. These skills or tasks should meet three criteria. Write about things you are great at doing, love doing and can get paid to do (the market wants — and is hiring for — these skills).

"Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential," said Sheryl Sandberg. Once you define greatest capabilities and feel confident about what you have to offer, you can start to make moves toward leveraging your skills to further your purpose.

Reach out through your personal network

We all have access, in one way or another, to people who can help us succeed. Making a career change means you must be creative, hungry and determined. You never know who in your network may know someone who is hiring — just one other person they can put you in touch with. 80 percent of job seekers now find positions through networking. And with social media and LinkedIn, networking is easier than ever. There is no excuse not to do it.

So as I always say: Now is the time to call everyone you know. Share your personal mission. Share your skills. You never know who may be able make an introduction or help you make your career move. 

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