It's 2021...finally! But let's be real. You might be dating important documents differently, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine, but the stresses of working in 2020 are still here. We're so used to planning fresh starts at the new year, but that's a lot harder to do when you're not sure what day of the week it is anymore. Should you even bother making resolutions this year?
Yes, but they might look a little different. Here are five career-related resolutions for your job in an uncertain year.
1. I resolve to...know what I can and cannot control.
If 2020 taught us anything, it's that we can't take anything for granted. But that doesn't mean we have no agency -- it simply means we have to know what our limitations are. You can't control the job market -- whether you've been actively looking for work since last March, graduated jobless into a pandemic, or are gritting your teeth working from your kitchen table at a job you can't afford to leave, know it's not your fault that there's very little hiring going on. But that doesn't mean you should kick up your feet and wait until the economy ticks back up. Instead, think about what you can do. If money is tight, is there a part-time or freelance gig you can take on? If you can hang on a little longer, is there professional development you can do, like taking a course or filming a short? Now's the time to get your resume and LinkedIn profile into tip-top shape, to set some professional and lifestyle goals, and to reach out to your network to let folks know you're looking.
2. I resolve to...figure out what work/life balance means to me.
We're not going to be working remotely forever, but for the next few months, it's likely to be the norm. Now's a good time to think about the overall vision you have for your life, at least in the near future. Do you miss the office? Do you love working in your PJs all day? Have you been going to set, terrified of catching COVID but equally terrified of losing your income, or loving that your job gets you out of the house and working with a team? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but life usually gets in the way of us really reflecting on them. Work culture and work/life balance are huge factors in overall job satisfaction, but we usually focus our career trajectories on other things, like whether the company is prestigious, or the salary is competitive, or the title is sexy. But right now, we have a rare opportunity to consider the way our jobs impact the rest of our lives -- think about all that has happened over the past few months and use that information to make a plan for your future.
3. I resolve to...keep my hobbies.
Did you bake sourdough bread in 2020? Take up knitting? Read every Shakespeare play? Do yoga every morning? We invented new ways to entertain ourselves when the world shut down, and some of those things should stick around, even when everything's back open. We always encourage clients to include an "interests" section on their resumes, as it shows hiring managers that they're more than just a robot who can do a job, but rather an interesting human with unique qualities. We've learned about some pretty extraordinary hobbies over the years, like urban dog sledding, airline mileage collecting, and gemology. But most people get deflated when we ask this question during our consult. "What do I do besides watch TV and work?" is a common refrain, uttered by people we know wish they gave themselves permission to explore other interests. Keep giving yourself permission to do the things that you discovered in 2020. Not only because it'll make your resume stand out, but because you'll be happier.
4. I resolve to...stay engaged in civic action.
If a global pandemic wasn't enough for a year, the civic unrest and political engagement in 2020 was historic. So many of us found ways to get involved in our communities in myriad ways, whether through volunteer work, protesting, phone banking, reading/learning, or even raising awareness on social media. It may be difficult to keep that momentum going when you're back to regular life, but it's not impossible. There are so many reasons it's important to stay engaged in the causes that are near and dear to your heart, whatever they may be. But one you may not have considered is how volunteer work or civic engagement can help your career. Your network grows when your community grows, employers like interviewing well-rounded candidates, and you may be able to get involved in corporate charitable giving or other work-based initiatives that help your cause. Don't think about civic engagement as something you can do when you "have time," because work priorities get in the way. There's always time -- and even a career benefit, if you need an additional reason -- for the things that matter in the world.
5. I resolve to...remember that I'm human, and so are my colleagues and boss.
Hollywood can be a toxic industry, and it's likely that you've worked with or someday will work with people who forget that we're making movies, not curing cancer (or COVID). When this happens, it's okay, vital even, to prioritize your mental health and humanity. You don't have to stay in an abusive environment because "someday the boss will be a strong reference." Similarly, practice outward sensitivity. Many of us have learned to be a little less strict with deadlines this last year after learning that a colleague's relative passed away from COVID, or to be more open-minded about employees who need to take a mental health day here or there. We've seen inside one another's homes on Zoom calls, we've learned about our coworkers' toddlers' potty training schedules, and we've seen our boss accidentally turn his camera on when he's wearing loungewear. This vulnerability is going to change the workplace in ways we don't fully understand yet. One potential upside is that we'll remember that the people we work with are people. Sure, some of them might be toxic or irresponsible. But most of our colleagues are just people who are doing the best they can to manage their work and home lives. Let's have 2021 be the year we embrace workplace empathy.
Whatever your resolution, we wish you health, happiness, and success in 2021!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan