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December 19, 2018
Your Year-End Career Checklist

Three things to do at the end of every year to make sure your career leaps forward during the next.


It seems I have a flurry of inquiries at the end of the year from people who are frustrated with their careers and want advice on how to change their lot in life. Having the career that you’re meant to have requires a long-term approach. You’re sculpting your future, so you should be chipping away at it. A natural time to step back and evaluate your progress, (or lack of progress) is at the end of the year. I coach my proteges to do so by reviewing these three things at the end of each year of their career. It isn’t surprising that doing so accelerates their progress and success.


1.    Evaluate the past year. What was your highest achievement? What did you learn that you didn’t know the year before? What was your biggest discouragement? What skills did you learn and improve? What did you realize you didn’t know that will be critical to your future success?


2.    Achieve your New Year’s resolution during the first three months of the new year. That’s right, crush it before the end of the first quarter. Most people make a goal (even a lofty one) for the coming year that they can achieve in a short amount of time. This tempts one to procrastinate. Which tempts one to forsake it because they believe they haven’t the time left in the year to achieve it. Move the deadline up and get started the January 2nd. Don’t be surprised if you complete it well before March 31st.


3.    Get mad and get even. We all have a naysayer inside that keeps us from believing we will achieve our career dreams. It’s normal to get down for not progressing. But tell your internal naysayer that you are not a quitter. You may not have control of all the things that keep you from succeeding, but there is one thing that is under your power: what you do about it. Promise yourself that as obstacles arise during the coming year, you will not give up until you have overcome all of them.


You may have a lousy job, boss, opportunities, teammates, pay, perks – it doesn’t matter when it comes to succeeding. Make the glass half empty because you drank the other half while you were busy overcoming your obstacles.


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Bart Cleveland spent over 30 years helping grow brands like Coca-Cola, The Ritz-Carlton, and CNN. Now, he guides creative professionals to plan and execute successful careers through his business, Job Propulsion Lab℠. He also helps both agencies and marketers nurture customers into advocates through a relationship development program he calls, ACES℠. 
Bart launched Ad Age’s most popular blog, Small Agency Diary. He is also a contributing author of the book, The Get A Job Workshop, How To Find Your Way To A Creative Career In Advertising.
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