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Resources to kick-start your career this year

The start of a new year is a good time to set some career goals. Where do you want to go? How can you get there? Who can you rely on to help you? What kind of advice do you need to guide you?
Man at job fair (©Mike Segar/Retuers)
Loving your job often involves more than luck and a sunny disposition. It can involve some work, risk and realistic self-assessment.Mike Segar / X90033
/ Source: Forbes

Hard to believe it’s already nearly 2012. The holidays are always a good time to take stock of the past year and your accomplishments so, before you crack open the Champagne, you may want to think about your goals for the coming year. Where do you want to go? How can you get there? Who can you rely on to help you? What kind of advice do you need to guide you?

As I look back on 2011 and my own accomplishments (most notably the publication of my first book, "Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work," co-written with fellow Forbes blogger Meryl Weinsaft Cooper), as well as my choices and key learnings, I thought I’d share some of my favorite founts of advice from colleagues, fellow career advisors and just plain ol’ smart folks.

Here’s my short list:

"Breakdown, Breakthrough," by Kathy Caprino
I had the pleasure of serving as a fellow advisor with Kathy (also a fellow Forbes blogger) in a Mediabistro Job Search Boot Camp this fall and was totally impressed with the advice she had to give to the students. Her book, "Breakdown, Breakthrough," focuses on why women (though men can benefit from it as well) feel disempowered and teaches them how they can overcome their fears, obstacles and professional crises to find breakthroughs. As someone who spent years in the corporate world and had to navigate her own professional crisis and layoff after 9/11, Kathy went back to school to become a therapist and is now a successful career coach and speaker who draws from personal experience to help others.

Jonathan Fields
While I don’t personally know Jonathan, Kathy Caprino actually recommended checking out his blog and I absolutely love it (and then coincidentally saw that there’s an article about him in the January issue of ELLE magazine). He’s a former SEC lawyer turned entrepreneur and author/speaker on creativity, career, play and entrepreneurship who has written two books, "Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love," and more recently, "Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance." Both are on my reading list for the New Year and should be on yours as well.

Lindsey Pollak
Lindsey is the ultimate expert on Generation Y and her book, "Getting from College to Career," is a must-read for any college student or recent graduate, all of whom could use some advice on how to navigate a very tough job market upon graduation. Lindsey’s blog is also fantastic and, though I’m part of Generation X (ahem), I have gleaned great career advice from it as well, particularly on how to manage Gen Y employees, which can present its own unique challenges to any boss with young people on his or her staff.

'College Bound and Gagged'
Speaking of college, another great book comes from a lovely writer/self-coined “Stand Up Psychologist” Nancy Berk. "College Bound and Gagged" is the straight-talking survival guide for anyone (read: parents) who are trying desperately to navigate the pre-college time and remain sane in the process.
Kim Styler, who spent years working in the magazine industry, started this resourceful website to provide a behind-the-scenes look at as many careers as possible to help others figuring out their own path to learn as much as possible about what it’s like to work in various industries — such as book publishing, PR, film, HR, technology, etc. There are hundreds of video interviews with folks in these fields and more (including me!) who answer questions such as “Who should or shouldn’t go into this business?”, “What’s your typical day like?” and “What do you like best/worst about your job?” Even though I’m not looking to change careers, I have enjoyed watching many of these videos just to hear more about what different jobs entail. Note: You can watch snippets of all videos for free but if you want to watch the full-length versions, you do have to sign up for a monthly or three-month package, at $14.99/mo. or $29.99, respectively.

And then a few nuggets of advice that I hope will help you prepare for a successful and exciting 2012:

Look back, look ahead
Take some quiet time to write down what you thought really worked in your career/job over the past year and what didn’t work as well. Determine what you can do better/differently/more of/less of in the coming year that will make you more efficient and effective in your job.

Be thankful
Think about the moments — both small and big — that made you feel successful in 2011 and the people who supported you, connected you to someone else, and/or gave you positive feedback that helped you stay focused on your goals. Then, send those people a thank you note. It may sound hokey, but they will appreciate it, and you’ll stay top of mind for them in the New Year.

Do what makes you happy
Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else, so it’s important to be fulfilled in what you do. Ask yourself, “What would make me happier in my career and what changes can I make to help me get there?” It could be as minor as telling your staff that you need an hour of “quiet time” each day to focus on strategy and not be distracted by constant interruption or emails. Or, it could be as drastic as switching careers or starting your own company, as several of my friends and colleagues have done recently with much success. Now is the time to take a risk, make a change and figure out how to advance your career — and contentment — in 2012.

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