Your 2017 Year-End Career Checklist

Miriam Ballesteros - Year-End career checklist.jpg

If you are like me, you are completely blindsided by the end of the year. Wasn’t it just 4th of July? Why is it so cold all of a sudden?!

December is here, and it’s human nature to get distracted by the holidays, the shopping, the parties, the travel... and place thinking about your career on hold. #amiright?

The point is, career development never stops.

And guess what? Experts say getting ahead at work is less about skillsets and more about strategy

So, let’s get that career strategy for next year on the road!


Up first is being honest with yourself about your job

How do you feel when you answer these questions?

  • Do you enjoy your work?

  • Are you valued in your current position?

  • Do you find meaning in your work?

  • Is there a clear growth path for your career?

  • Are you learning in your current position?

  • Do you want to be doing the *same* work next year? in 5 years?

If you answered *no* to any of these questions, you're not alone. A research by Gallup reported that only 13% of employees worldwide “feel engaged at work”, and inspired by their careers.

Personally, I’m not 100% where I want to be, but I believe that it's completely possible to create work you love. So, there's still room for growth.


Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to success is to try one more time.
— Thomas Edison


Seek out role models that help you believe change is possible

Frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without role models.

I looooove reading about success stories and learning from people in my field. I even created a section named inspiring women in my blog to feature female game-changers who I’ve met personally, AND their story and choices line up to what I believe in.

Because when you don't have the motivation to get work done, isn’t it nice to have someone to emulate?

Also, understanding how your role models overcome their obstacles will help you prepare to deal with future drawbacks.

The end goal is to become a better version of yourself. And who knows - you may become someone else's role model one day.  😉


You can’t be what you can’t see.


Assess your performance

If you work in corporate, chances are that you already have “annual” reviews up and running. But even if you don’t, I encourage you to reflect on how you did on this year’s goals.

Where did you do well? What do you want to do better in the future?

These four categories really help me when preparing my memo to my boss:

  • Areas where I have excelled.

  • Areas where I would like to improve my skillset in 2018.

  • Concrete plans to improve my skillset in the coming year.

  • New challenges in which I would be interested.

Side note: Through the 2017, I kept a “success folder” in my desktop to keep record of all my achievements. Think of it as a brag sheet from which to pull review material. It’s SO helpful.

What can’t be measured cannot be improved.
— Peter Drucker


Accelerate learning!

In other words: know what you need to know, before you need to know it!

Be it graphic design, project management, tech support, crisis management, you name it. Acquiring new skills do not require studying a MBA. You only need an ongoing, nimble, and anticipatory attitude that allows you design an educational process that works for you.

Check out trends in your industry for the new year, find a new podcast to learn from while you commute, or just take the lifelong learning approach from wherever you can get it!

Here are just a few of the sources to get started:

  • Read several news a day related to your business area.

  • Develop in-house or external soft skills, such as leadership or emotional intelligence.

  • Develop hard skills, such as basic programming, or how to speak conversational French.

  • Enroll Udemy classes (shoutout to STRANDS for providing employees with free courses!)

  • Structure library learning on a topic of interest.

  • Get advice from subject-matter experts.

  • What else? Be creative!


If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.
— Zig Ziglar


Find guardian angels

This is a piece of advice I learned at FinCon (a finance conference): find guardian angels!

Guardian angels (aka allies) are basically people higher up the org chart who believe in you, who watch out for you, and have your best interests at heart - genuinely.

Why do I endorse this idea?

When you have allies higher up the org chart, they can “protect” you in case of a fight or a dispute involving you. And when you have friends up the org chart, people are more likely to believe you have the potential to say something valuable when you present ideas.

Bringing it all together

That’s a wrap!

I walked you through the five main steps of a year-end career checklist. Yet, let me remind you the most essential piece of advice: do your job, and do it well.

That’s the number one tip of any career development strategy. The foundation to any career growth.

Do you have any other point on your 2017 year-end career checklist? You can tell I’m obsessed with career development, and that’s because I’m *intentionally* working for a lifestyle advancement.

So here’s to happy jobs, and happy lives! 🙂