You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. - C.S. Lewis
It's the end of another year (where did it go?) and the beginning of another one soon. This is also the time when we start planning our resolutions for a new beginning. As you plan for the new year, remember that many of the things impacting your career may have very little to do with your actual job. We do bring our baggage to work and to think differently is unrealistic. As you assess your career plans, consider the following areas, as well - you may be surprised by the unexpected career lift you get as a result.
Pursue a passion (not related to work). Has there been something you have wanted to learn or try, but haven't made the time for because of other responsibilities? You have permission to take that first step: register for a course; take the days off from work to attend a workshop; buy a book; join a group; etc. Keep your heart and mind motivated and learning, it's the best mood-booster and aging-blocker. And don't worry about it being silly. The sillier and more useless it appears to your career, the better. And don't be surprised when you start to use analogies at work that correspond with this newfound love.
Meet new people. Make an effort to meet different people, particularly people not in advertising or marketing. Don't get me wrong - I love advertising and marketing folks, but if you want to broaden your perspective, then make an effort to meet people in very different careers (or no careers). A few years ago, I spent a few days observing high school classes at the school my friend taught at. Watching good teachers manage a classroom taught me a lot about managing meetings (more than any professional development course ever did). For example, plan in advance, stick to a timeline, get the administrative stuff out of the way quickly, engage your audience from the beginning (try that with teenagers), and let them know where you're going with the material and what they can expect.
Spend time volunteering. Volunteering has many merits both for the giver and the recipient. One of the benefits is that it gets you out of your head for a while. It's really easy for us - particularly in advertising - to start to see small things as major catastrophes. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, there are many volunteer opportunities available where we can see what a real catastrophe is. Also, I recommend volunteering as a team-building assignment - working on an important cause together can create a strong connection between coworkers.
Spend time with children, the elderly, or the ill. If you want to get a dose of looking at the world in a different way, then try spending time with the young, old, or sick. A few years ago, after I delivered my daughter, I brought her to visit my mother's senior center to, of course, let my mother show her off. I ended up spending the entire day there because I was having a blast. Her friends had no problem sharing 70+ years of acquired life lessons and wisdom with me; they also let me into their very challenging game of Bingo (no joke), which was remarkably fun and had me working very hard trying to win a cheese grater as if it were the last cheese grater on earth.
Disassociate with people who consistently bring you down. You know what I'm talking about here. That friend who always finds something wrong with you or never has anything nice to say. Call it quits and move on.
Focus on your health. And finally, make your health a priority. Schedule your annual visits; go get those baseline exams you've been putting off; get some rest; etc. You need your body to get you through this world - give it the attention it needs to work well so that you can work well.
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Based in New York, Anna Papadopoulos has held several digital media positions and has worked across many sectors including automotive, financial, pharmaceutical, and CPG.
An advocate for creative media thinking and an early digital pioneer, Anna has been a part of several industry firsts, including the first fully integrated campaign and podcast for Volvo and has been a ClickZ contributor since 2005. She began her career as a media negotiator for TBS Media Management, where she bought for media clients such as CVS and RadioShack. Anna earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from St. John's University in New York.