How to Turn Your Career Resolutions Into Action

Students should create career journals to track weekly progress.


Recently, on a visit to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., I caught an exhibit of iconic photos starring some of the greatest athletes of our time. Many of the images were taken by famed sports photographer Walter Iooss, Jr., and in the center of the room, under glass, I discovered something that captured my attention far more than the shots of Michael Jordan in mid-air.

It was a series of handwritten journals from Iooss himself.

But they weren't personal journals; they were career journals that Iooss used to archive past work and plans for future assignments. As I stood there, captivated by the detail and care Iooss put into each of them, I decided to create a journal of my own.

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In fact, we should all be creating career journals to help us move faster and more strategically from where we are now to where we want to be in our lives.

Think about it. If you're struggling to figure out what's next in your future or you have a vision of a career you'd like to have but no idea how to get there, a journal—along with strategic career planning—will turn your daydreams into solid planning.

In Effective Immediately, my coauthor and I recommend creating a Friday Update for your boss each week. Friday Updates are bulleted lists of your:

• accomplishments

• areas of challenge or where input is needed

• goals for the week ahead

It's a fairly simple exercise that requires less than 15 minutes per week to complete, yet the benefits in communication and overall productivity are immeasurable. So think about your career journal as a Friday Update to yourself.

Each week, set aside a small chunk of time (20-30 minutes tops) to really analyze what you've done and what you need to do in pursuit of your goals. To begin, create a checklist of five things you want to complete this week.

I keep my career journal in a binder because I like to add photos from magazines and other sources for visual inspiration, but it doesn't matter whether you use a notebook or an app—just do whatever works best for you. (If you want to use an app though, Evernote or Momento are good starting points.)

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Next, pull out your journal on Friday and evaluate your progress. Commit to doing this from now until the end of January and see what happens.

Yes, it will take some discipline to keep your journal current. But I guarantee that if you do this consistently each week, you will achieve far more progress on the road to your goals than you would by just hoping things in your life will change, but taking no action to make it happen.

Have a safe, happy, and productive New Year!