It’s 8 p.m. on Sunday, and it hits: the dreaded Sunday Night Blues. That nagging feeling of “I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow.” You know what I’m talking about. In 2013, seven in 10 American workers reported being “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work. They're emotionally disconnected and less likely to be productive. I mean, just reading that statistic is enough to give you the blues. Wow. 

But you know what? This is a new year. A fresh start. A great opportunity to get engaged, get excited, get productive, and get after the success and happiness you deserve (hey, you do!). Here are five ways to make 2014 your best career year yet. 

1. Learn something new

Doing the same old thing all day, every day can get, well, old. Mastering a relevant new skill will allow you to take on greater responsibility, perform better, and reignite your passion for what you do. It will also make you a more marketable candidate for future positions. If your company offers continuing education programs or education reimbursement, take advantage. If not, talk to your manager and explain how a certain class, conference or program will benefit you and the company. Chances are, it’ll be a win/win situation. 

2. Expand your network

It helps to have friends in high places--and in different departments, companies, and professions. Creating relationships with diverse groups will expand your horizons and help you work more collaboratively and efficiently; plus, you’ll be the first to find out when hot new opportunities become available. Take the initiative and set up coffee dates, lunches, or informal meetings. You never know when your new connections will come in handy.

3. Find a mentor

The word “mentor” may sound formal and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your mentor could be a manager, coworker, friend or even family member--someone you trust to provide professional guidance and feedback. Check in with your mentor when you need a fresh perspective, or anytime you hit a professional crossroad. They'll help you stay focused, see the big picture, and move you toward a successful, fulfilling career.

4. Take on a special project

The magic happens when you step outside your comfort zone. Be bold and volunteer to work on a side project that allows you to explore new and unfamiliar areas of the business. This is your chance to challenge yourself, expand your skill set, create a show-off piece, and prove your capabilities beyond your current position. Who knows? You may discover a new area that’s a great fit for you--and where you already have a foot in the door.

5. Plan ahead

Do you know where you want your career to be in one year, five years, ten years? If your answer is “kinda,” “not really,” or “I don’t even know where I’m going for lunch,” now is the time to start making a plan. Think about where you want to be, then work backward and develop the steps to get you there. What should you be doing every day, week, month, and year to make it happen? Write down small, attainable goals, and look at them regularly to keep you on track. Before you know it, you’ll be living your #dreamjob.


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