Work & Purpose

The 3 Work Resolutions You Should Make in 2013

A few unconventional career tips can help you become happier, healthier and wealthier

When it comes to making work-related resolutions for 2013, you’ve probably seen advice this week urging you to do more: Network more, save more for retirement, ask your boss for more money … .
But that’s not the way I see it.
Instead, when midlife friends ask me for advice on how to succeed in the new year, I tell them to start a “fitness program” — but not the kind you think.
(MORE: Money Rules of Thumb You Need to Follow (and Ignore!))

The best way to boost your career in 2013 is to get physically fit, spiritually fit and financially fit. Here’s my New Year’s Resolution guide to what you should do, along with why and how to do it:
Resolve to get physically fit. Physical fitness produces the energy, strength and mental quickness you will need to deal with work stress, particularly if you are considering changing jobs this year or your position gets pulled out from under you.
Plus, as superficial as it sounds, an in-shape and energetic appearance does wonders to combat age discrimination when it comes to getting promoted or landing a new job. (Next Avenue has more job-interview advice along these lines for men and for women.)
When you’re eating healthy and have a normal workout regimen, you have more physical vitality and mental acuity. Best of all, exercising makes you feel better, period.
Resolve to get spiritually fit. I’ve found that mind-body balance helps you stay centered when your career gets rocky or you’re confronted with a setback. It also helps you tamp down the nagging voice of doubt that can cause you to stumble.
When 50-plus Susan Wolcott decided to leave her healthcare management position to open a knitting shop in Funkstown, Md., (yes, that’s really the town’s name) she told me: “Sometimes I’d wake up and think, what the heck am I doing? There were times when I would meditate for two hours in the morning, focusing on affirmations.”
(MORE: Reinventing Yourself at 50)
The spiritual reflection worked for Wolcott. “Now all it takes is a couple of quick words to myself to know that things are going to turn out OK,” she says.
For assistance, you might consider reading some of Deepak Chopra’s books on spirituality and mind-body medicine. Next Avenue also has an entire area of its site devoted to spirituality with a lot of useful articles. Perhaps there is also someone in your life you can turn to for direction or encouragement.
If not, you may want to hire a professional life coach; the website for the Life Planning Network is one place to look.
You just might find that what’s keeping you stalled in your career isn’t about work at all, but something else in your life.
Resolve to get financially fit. When you have economic stability, you can be more nimble about choosing the type and amount of work you want to do.
A solid financial foundation can often provide the opportunity to start a new career, open your own business or foot the cost of going back to school to learn new skills. To me, it offers freedom.
If you’re out of shape financially, your first exercise will be to chart a budget. Get the big picture of your income, debt and savings.
Ask yourself: Where can I trim expenses so I can put more into savings? And if you don’t have an automatic monthly savings system in place as well as an emergency savings fund, get both rolling.
(MORE: A Manual for Encore Careers)
You might even want to downsize this year to cut housing costs. Depending on the real estate market where you live, it might make sense to move to a smaller home or even relocate to a cheaper area.
Debt as a dream killer is a favorite mantra of mine and it has the added benefit of being true. So pay down your high-interest credit cards and other loans. Look into refinancing your mortgage and loans to get these debt albatrosses off your neck.
Commitment Is Key

Finally, remember that everything I’m suggesting is part of a fitness program.
For it to work, you need to make a commitment. It’s possible that you’ll need to hire a pro to keep you accountable — a fitness trainer, a meditation guide or a financial planner or some combination of them.
Once you undertake this three-step fitness program for your career in 2013, you’ll see an unexpected bonus: Exercise and endorphins have been linked to feelings of happiness. Keeping these resolutions really could lead to a happy new year!

Kerry Hannon
By Kerry Hannon
Kerry Hannon is the author of Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working From Home. She has covered personal finance, retirement and careers for The New York Times, Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today, among others. She is the author of more than a dozen books including Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life, Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single Women and What's Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond. Her website is kerryhannon.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:

Next Avenue brings you stories that are inspiring and change lives. We know that because we hear it from our readers every single day. One reader says,

"Every time I read a post, I feel like I'm able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it's so great."

Your generous donation will help us continue to bring you the information you care about. Every dollar donated allows us to remain a free and accessible public service. What story will you help make possible?