Isn’t it fun to have a brand new year ahead? I love a clean slate.  We each have 365 days of opportunities for growth.  However, it’s all too easy for this year in your career to end up exactly the same as last. To avoid this, make the following three commitments to yourself now:

1.     Commit to meeting one new person in the industry each quarter

Inspirational guru Charlie “Tremendous” Jones reminds us that, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.”  Commit to meeting one new person in the industry each quarter.  Put a deadline on your calendar and set a reminder every two weeks to ensure you stick to the schedule. 

By the end of the year, you’ll have four new contacts.  That doesn’t sound like much, but if you extrapolate that number to the contacts of your new contacts, your network will have expanded dramatically.  Where can you meet at least one of these four new people?

2.     Commit to going to a conference this year

Decide that you’re going to go to at least one conference this year.  If you have no conference budget, contact the technology, legal, and consulting vendors/firms you use, and see if they are having a conference this year.  Many host free events in an effort to solidify their relationships with their clients, and it’s a great way to meet others in the industry in your area.

While interactive webinars and online content are useful, meeting people at in-person conferences is a more powerful way to grow your network organically.  Decide to go to a conference this year, then seek out either the budget to go or a vendor that will host you for free.   

3.     Commit to using all of your vacation days

Start planning your vacation time immediately.  It’s estimated that American workers lose $66 billion in unused vacation time per year.  And while other cultures value holiday time more, the trend for busy professionals is to eschew time off in favor of working harder.  The truth is, vacation time allows you to work smarter throughout the year.

It can be hard coming back to work after the holidays.  To make it easier, plan how you’ll use your vacation time now.  Even if you don’t know where you want to go yet, or if you’re going to have a staycation, plan the days off, request them, and block them out on your calendar.  You’ll be amazed how much a single week off can recharge your batteries and bring you back better.

There is no greater gift you can give yourself this year than committing to your growth and health.  Welcome the new year correctly.  You’ll thank yourself in December!