6 New Year's Resolutions for Professional and Personal Growth
Tis the season of New Year’s Resolutions. Regardless of whether we skipped or staggered past the 2014 finish line, we all have an opportunity to set new goals for 2015. For me, 2014 was very full, in a good way. Here are my resolutions that may resonate with other professional women in technology.
1. Make a list of 12 people who I want to know better.
These could be people I have met, but never had an opportunity to really talk to in depth. Or they could be bloggers that I follow or teachers from my kids’ school. The goal is to engage with people with whom I might not cross paths unless I make a concerted effort. I’m planning to set up a reminder at the beginning of each month to reach out to one of these people to meet for coffee, or better yet, a walk. For the people I know, it should be pretty straightforward to reach out. For those I don’t, I will need to look for intros, which leads me to my next resolution…
2. Clean up my LinkedIn profile.
Yes, I know this is the professional equivalent of the ubiquitous “lose 10 pounds” New Year’s resolution, but it’s time. I need to update my photo, add more skills, and share a few additional details about my last few jobs. I might even add some recommendations from several people who know me well. I must admit, it feels uncomfortable to ask others to post a few lines about me, but I know that it is actually helpful for others to view additional perspectives.
3. Watch five TED talks.
Each time I watch a TED talk, I feel inspired. I will start by watching the most popular talks, but I’m looking for suggestions. If you have a favorite, please send it my way @awagonfeld.
4. Plan a weekend with women who work in other industries.
I find that it’s helpful to get away to get some perspective, and professional diversity often helps with perspective. I’m actually thinking about a light-weight agenda for the weekend to ensure we take the time to reflect. I used to be part of a career moms discussion group, and we started each meeting with updates on three fronts: work, family, personal. It was always a good forcing function to have the “personal” in there, because it ensured that we took time to do something for ourselves between meetings. I have found that work, family and personal all tend to bleed into each other (what I call “work life integration”), and each corner of the triangle is strengthened by investing in the other two.
5. Increase my Twitter engagement.
I plan to follow 50-100 more people and step up my retweeting, favoriting (is that a word?), etc. I just started actively using twitter in 2014, and I’m still figuring it out. At first I was dubious, but I am finding it increasingly helpful as a source of news, ideas, and inspiration. I want my twitter feed to be a constant stream of new knowledge and insight from across the industry, and inspiration from thought leaders I admire. No one is going to curate this for me, so I need to set time aside to make it happen for myself. This will yield benefits in the future far greater than the initial time invested.
6. Select a new non-profit to help.
I just transitioned off the board of My New Red Shoes, a fantastic Bay Area organization that provides new shoes and clothing gift cards to children in homeless shelters. I left the board after six years, including a year as chair, because I believe all boards need fresh volunteers with new perspectives. But I miss using my business skills to help causes that I care about. I’m looking forward to engaging with one or two new organizations in 2015.
Now the hard part, how do you keep your resolutions? After all, making the list is the easy part. I’m thinking of reaching out to a few other women who can be my “resolution buddies” -- we can check in with each other a few times during the year.
At Emergence Capital, we set personal goals as part of our operating plan and share them with each other at the beginning of the year, while also reflecting on the previous year’s goals. We also celebrate each other’s goals throughout the firm, often using Cotap, our group messaging application. (My colleague Cathy Minshall set a goal of running her 100th marathon in 2014, and our Cotap feed lit up when she crossed the finish line in July.) I’m committed to my New Year’s Resolutions, and let’s check in next year.