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Career Development During the Holidays

mountain hut in snow

The Holidays are not a career development wasteland. In fact, December & January are a powerful time for career development. There are 3 time periods, or natural phases that take place during the Holidays and each phase has its own inherent opportunities. They are:

  1. The Social Phase

  2. The Reflective Phase

  3. The New Beginnings Phase

How can you make the most of the holidays?


The Social Phase

Of course, during the Holidays, you have competing demands for your time and attention. Parties to attend. If you celebrate Christmas, shopping and preparation to do. The lead-up to Christmas is a natural time for socializing. While your schedule may be crammed, there is a career development opportunity.

1. Build Ties within your organization

The Holidays are a natural time to solidify ties within your place of work. Let’s face it. The bonds between colleagues can get stretched. Difficult decisions. Deadlines to meet. Hectic schedules with no time to kick-back and have non-business conversations with your colleagues.

a.) Your Boss

An important relationship and a major opportunity to hopefully deepen an existing positive relationship, or perhaps, establish a personal connection with a boss that you haven’t managed to get to know yet.

b.) Your team

Both with peers and those who report to you, this is a good time to celebrate accomplishments, bond over the hard work you have collectively put in, and have a few laughs. It is a simple thing, really, but it can do wonders.

c.) Friends, Fans & Allies

It is important to have relationships outside of your immediate colleagues. This is a good time to revisit, catch-up, share war stories and plans for the coming year.

d.) People you want to know better…AKA Targets

Perhaps you have made a connection with someone in the organization but haven’t taken the step of booking time with this person. A well-placed offer for a breakfast or lunch might be just the thing to take this relationship to the next step.

2. External Networking

Customers. Suppliers. People in the industry and community who it is important to know. This is familiar territory.

Of course, this is all optional. You may choose to be very selective about how you spend your time right now.

Instead of using that time now during the busy season, consider a phone call, or email, booking something for January. Even if schedules don’t permit now, it is the thought that counts. A New Year kick-off meeting could work very well.

Friendly reminder

This is a great time to practice those active listening skills. Ask great questions about their year, their accomplishments, their plans for the New Year, and what is important to them.


The Reflective Phase

Beyond strengthening bonds with those around you, the Holidays offer an invaluable opportunity for reflection.

In recent years, the New Year’s resolution has been battered in the media. However, there is a natural cycle occurring that we can and should benefit from. We are hardwired to wind up the old year and ring in the new. It is a natural time to reflect on where we have been and where we want to go. The Holidays also offer the potential for time off, or, depending on the business you are in, a quieter workplace.

Take advantage of this convergence to invest in some reflective alone time.

Action Item

If you haven’t already, consider booking some time for yourself and your favorite tools for journaling.

Here are some questions to get you started. I recommend that you apply this process to both your personal and professional life, examining the various roles you play in your life.

1. What happened this year that I want to record?

2. Where did I meet the targets I set for myself and where did I fall short?

3. What behaviours helped me to succeed? What behaviours caused me to fail?

4. What did I learn?

5. What unfinished business do I have going into the New Year?

6. What do I want for the coming year?

  • What do I want to start doing?

  • What do I want to stop doing?

  • What do I want to achieve? Happen? For me? For those around me?

7. Why are those things important to me? What different will they make in my life?

8. What would success look like in the various aspects of my life?

9. What decisions do I need to make?

10. What am I resisting doing?

11. What goals am I setting for myself?

12. What is my plan to achieve those goals?

13. What structures can I set in place to increase the probabilities that I will succeed?

Here are some ideas:

  • Scheduling

  • A mentor, coach, or advisor - to help clarify, strategize, execute, and hold you accountable

  • Teaming up. Joining a group working towards a similar goal

  • Telling people about my goals.

  • Putting review days in my calendar

  • Making and acting on the decisions necessary to achieve your goals

Of course, your exploration can go in many different places. It might be the beginning of a powerful year. You might also simply confirm and validate that you are on the right track. Either way, the process will make you feel more certain and energized as you hit the New Year.


The New Beginnings Phase

Okay. You’ve socialized. You’ve reflected and planned. What’s next?


On what?
Internal career development. Job search. Career change. Increasing your profile and personal brand in your market / community. Launching that product or service. Personal development. Personal or family projects. Health. You name it.

Some powerful ideas for getting a strong start to your year:

1. Schedule your year

Major events and milestones. Self-set deadlines for goal achievement. Vacations. Long weekends. Weekly fitness activities. Putting something in your calendar has power.

2. New Year’s Letter

A business, or professional-oriented New Year’s letter can be a great way to get the word out about what you are doing and where you see your market going in 2024. Provide some value. Create a touchpoint with your network and clients.

3. New Year’s Meetings

Follow-up on those meetings you couldn’t schedule during Christmas and book others. Agenda? Kick-off for the year. How can you help. What are they working on. Sharing what your goals and plans are. Works with your network, clients and colleagues.

4. Make Decisions

Have you been procrastinating on making a decision? Career change? Going for a promotion? Starting a new project? Now is a great time to be decisive. Decide yes or no, and then get on with it.

5. Make a Plan

Create a road map for your projects. For your job search. Be clear about next steps. Don’t get stuck at the implementation phase.

6. Take Early Action

Making a strong start to your projects in January / February will create excellent momentum in the first quarter.

7. Remove Roadblocks

Let’s face it. We can have a lot of baggage. Commitments we haven’t delivered on. Unfinished projects. Promises we made but don’t want to keep - with others, and ourselves. My advice is try and clear as much of these as possible. Removing baggage has a powerful way of freeing us up to take on new things. How?

  • Decide which you need to follow-up on and which you should abandon, based on your priorities, and take the appropriate action. Perhaps renegotiate some of your deliverables to better fit your current priorities and situation.

  • Blitz those that you have committed to completing.

8. Consider Partnering with an Expert

If you aren’t making progress, want to move faster, or want the expertise of a professional, consider getting some help. On your internal career development. Job search. Resume. Career change. Solobusiness. Fitness or financial goals. Investing in ourselves is one of the best investments we can make.

Of course, there are many more ideas. The point of this article, is that there is a natural opportunity to make significant strides in your career development during the Holidays.

Happy Holidays!

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