As the Christmas period approaches with its focus on relationships and happiness, devote some time to thinking about achieving the best of relationships and happiness in your career.

Here are five essential areas for you to consider.

1. Permission to Dream

One of my good friends “imagineered” her family’s emigration from France to Australia. She delved and delved with her husband until she uncovered his life goals. Luckily for her, this dream resonated with her and here they are…

We often do this work as Career Consultants. It’s not our job to tell people what to do or not to do. Our clients’ lives and plans are theirs. Where I think that we make a difference is that good Career Consultants are essentially supportive, creative, problem solvers. We have an abundance approach and help people expand the possibilities in front of them. Find someone in your life who will take you beyond the here and now, who will challenge you to imagine and dream. Someone who will support you, as my French friend did for her family.

2. Be authentic and find an employer who values it

Authenticity is quite a buzz word at the moment and I really like it. It’s bound up in the idea of establishing a personal brand – presumably one that is to your advantage, of course!

There are considerable risks here. It’s not always possible to sync your personal brand with your organisation as they might be much more conservative than your brand. This means that you need to find the balance between standing out and being seen as a trouble-maker. Do you know what your brand is and would your audience agree with you?

3. Drill down to what you are actually good at and like doing

My two key motivators in life are to influence people and to see a noticeable improvement in their skill. Just watch out if you’re swimming next to me in a public pool – it’s unlikely that I’ll resist the urge to give you a few pointers about your technique!

These motivators are going to be linked to your personality preferences and work values, but they are often overlooked. They are an important part of the puzzle of what makes you happy at work. Understanding them can also allow you to reinvent yourself to a new industry, should you need or wish to.

4. Find an astute sounding board

I often say that what we talk about as a Career Consultant is not rocket science and yet people seem to value it immensely. It helps that we have an excellent knowledge of the current market place but that’s not enough. I talk about our three key words: support, strategy and skills i.e. we support people, we help them to be strategic and we look to transfer skills to them.

This approach isn’t that hard to find. I can think of one of my business friends who just inspires me every time I have a coffee with her. Have a think about who you admire as being “wise” and structure a regular catch up with them.

5. Keep up to date

This is a micro but important area and it’s one that can absolutely let you down. I usually ask my clients how many more years they intend to work. If it’s more than 5 years, the good news/bad news is that you can’t relax: you need to keep up with market expectations.

At a minimum, you should keep abreast of basic technology – workers who are less capable digitally risk falling behind. The baseline skills and knowledge you need to be successful are changing quickly. Perform a regular check with a tech savvy contact who can vet your levels.

Beat the Post Christmas Blues

January is a good time for many things – you’re back at work but not quite in the normal swing of things. So, take the time to perform a career audit.

You can start some of this work by reading/researching topics via the internet. But I keep finding myself coming back to that astute, supportive person. I was helped by a few people this way when I left my first profession and jumped off the cliff. I may have cried all the way down, but their advice ensured that I more than survived the fall. It may sound corny but I did thrive and still do.

To my mind, there’s just no substitute for sitting across from someone is skilled and who challenges you in a supportive way. So, leave your office and pop out for a coffee with your mentor on a regular basis. Who knows? Over time, you may find that you are sought out yourself to advise your friends and contacts, because you have done this profound work in relation to our complex world of work.

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