In the busyness of the holiday season, don’t forget about career gifts to give yourself so you can maximize the job you have, advance to the next step, and find more fulfillment and balance. Here are eight ideas for career-related gifts you can give yourself this holiday season:
Most everyone complains about lack of time, but if you have a career goal in mind, you need time to focus on that next career step while keeping all of your other commitments. To get a better hold of your time, give yourself a large wall calendar, organizer or other planner dedicated to your career activities. Or give yourself some free time by springing for extra help around the house – an extra cleaning session or a meal delivery program for the first few months of the new year.
In a recent coaching call, one of my job seeking clients berated herself over not being further along her search. Negative talk usually doesn’t inspire action – your bad mood more likely ensures you do less! If you have been berating yourself for lack of progress, not taking actions you think you should, or some other career regret, give yourself the free (but priceless) gift of compassion for yourself. You’re doing the best you can — if something hasn’t gotten done, you could be focused on the wrong strategy, too big a next step, or the wrong goal altogether. Forgive yourself, and get support to move on.
That support could be a coaching session or simply a coffee catch-up with your mentor or cheerleader friend. A strong support network is vital to career success. Give yourself a gift card to your favorite coffee place or lunch spot, and earmark it for those networking meetings you know are valuable. Or really treat yourself and buy membership at a professional club or co-working space so you have a dedicated spot for meetings. These places often host their own events gatherings, so you also get a built-in networking structure.
A professional club or co-working space also gives you dedicated space to work. A less costly way to give yourself space is to reorganize your desk at home so it’s conducive to your job search, the creative project you’ve been meaning to start, or the side business you’re nurturing. Give yourself nice organizers that you’ll actually use to create the workspace that inspires you to work.
Inspiration to work, create and advance is another gift you can give your career. The inspiration might come visually from your improved space or in those networking meetings you set up with your dedicated gift card. Or, you can look for inspiration at conferences or retreats in your area of interest. Think of a field you want to know more about and find a conference on the subject. Block out some vacation days, and book the travel – even if you end up deciding not to go the conference, you guarantee yourself a short vacation.
Conferences are great way to get inspiration and expand your knowledge. More cost-efficient knowledge gifts include classes (some online offerings are free), specialty publication subscriptions, or professional memberships. Check with your local college in case they allow you to audit classes for no or low fees.
Regardless of how much you know, how well you plan or how much support you have, there will be ups and downs in your career efforts. Give yourself more capacity to weather these ups and downs by increasing your resilience and mental toughness. You can give yourself a book on resilience techniques – one of my favorites is Fight Your Fear and Win by Don Greene.
Resilience enables you to refresh mentally and emotionally. You also want to refresh, update or replace items that are worn or no longer serve you. For the career-minded, this might mean tailoring even your favorite suit (clothes are much more fitted now). Or replacing your work bag. Or updating your equipment (this may or may not mean springing for the latest gadget).
Don’t let other people have all the fun. Add items for yourself and your career onto your gift list, and give yourself a career boost next year.
A version of this post originally appears in my Forbes column.