The ball will be dropping soon…

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The time for making New Year’s resolutions has arrived. Some folks say their goal is to lose weight. Others vow to spend more time with their families. And an even smaller percentage of adults in the United States have their careers in mind when drafting resolutions.

A survey developed by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International, found that only 3 percent of the 525 men and women polled said they always make a career-related New Year’s resolution. Seven percent said they make career-related resolutions “often,” 18 percent responded “sometimes” and 15 percent said “once in a while.” On the flipside, 55 percent of respondents said their resolutions are never career-related.

“It’s interesting. What we find is most people focus on improving their quality of life and spending more time with family,” said Katrina Blake, division director for Accountemps. Blake did not find the results of the survey to be surprising, nor did she view the news as negative. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily,” she said. “It’s that people are concentrating on their overall well-being and that has a lot to do with their home life.”

Careers, however, also have a lot to do with a person’s well-being, Blake said. After all, most people spend 40 hours a week or more at work. That is time spent making deals, sending e-mails, helping customers and clients and interacting with coworkers.

While most people do not include their careers when making resolution decisions, according to the survey, the ones who do may be more in tune with their goals and aspirations within the business world. “Generally we’ll find that the most common resolution is to acquire new skills,” Blake said. Adaptability, she said, also comes in handy. “One example, people who are able to identify new trends in business are the ones who do better.”

In other words, staying on the ball and being open to change will help people excel in their professions. A lot of professionals, Blake said, hope to volunteer as a mentor or work with a mentor during the New Year. It all goes back to learning new skills and branching out in a particular career field.

Some people resolve to network more for the New Year. This may involve giving out more business cards, calling acquaintances and clients more often, and stepping away from the bar every now and then at events. Building a stronger network base will fill up a Rolodex and make those events easier to navigate.

And while getting a promotion or a raise are high on workers’ wish lists, simply staying can be a goal itself. Establishing business goals for the next year allows opportunities to plan for the future. “With job uncertainty, it’s a good idea to have some kind of contingency plan,” Blake said. “I would say for people who are looking for a job or trying to hold onto a job, it is a good time to make career resolutions.”

Maintaining a positive attitude and fresh outlook is high on Denise Schall’s list. Schall, program coordinator for the Downtown Partnership, would like to continue to stay focused on the tasks at hand in 2005. “Just try to stay refreshed and look at things with new eyes,” she said. “Look for opportunities and possibilities.” Schall said she would not allow herself to get stale, “frustrated or bogged down in problems” and would instead “continue on working on being energetic and ambitious.”

Ambition also is quite familiar to Will Temby, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. While Temby does not have any personal career resolutions, he plans to make 2005 a great year for the chamber. “I think we’re very focused on building the infrastructure of Colorado Springs,” he said. “I want to really focus very heavily on the chamber’s role of moving the community forward.”

Moving the city forward will include developing the southwest area of downtown and the North Nevada corridor in Colorado Springs, Temby said. Included on Temby’s list of goals for the chamber are continuing to support the military community, working to “enhance the image of the community external to the community, enhancing our community support of small businesses in the region” and supporting the K-12 and higher education systems.

New chamber programs such as the partnership with the Better Business Bureau and the online business marketplace will help lead Colorado Springs business into the New Year. Under the business marketplace program, chamber members can post information about their businesses on the chamber Web site, thus increasing visibility in the community. “Our goal is to enhance our membership in 2005. That is a distinct goal, to better support small businesses in the region,” Temby said.

George Boutin, executive director of the Colorado Springs Office of International Affairs, wants big things for the city in 2005. “I’d like to get more of our local companies exporting,” he said.

Expanding on skills that already exist is another way to make the most of the New Year. “I know what my weaknesses are and I know what my strengths are, so I’m going to work on my weaknesses and improve upon my strengths,” said Colette Feher-Laning, broker for Rusinak Real Estate. “I’ve been in sales for three years, so there has been some development along the way.” For Feher-Laning, working on “being a more effective speaker and improving skills I already have as far as time management and being organized” is a priority in 2005.

Coming up with a career-related New Year’s resolution is not on everyone’s To-Do List. “I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution,” said Gene Sanchez, president and CEO of Zehcnas and president of the Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. But that doesn’t mean he and his company are not planning for the near future. “From a business perspective, we’re looking at the fact that we’re looking at growth and expanding into international markets. We’re planning to double growth,” he said. “From a personal perspective&wherever God guides me is what I do next.”

To develop a sound career resolution, Blake suggested creating an outline to layout each goal within a resolution. It would also be wise, she said, to take time in February or March to ask, “Is this what I wanted to accomplish?” And Blake has a few career resolutions of her own. “One of my career resolutions is getting promoted and figuring out ways to sharpen myself professionally,” she said.

“Your New Year’s resolution is not always a time to do something new, but it could be a good time to do a gut check,” she said.

And specific career resolutions may not even be necessary, Schall said. “I think New Year’s resolutions kind of encompass your whole life, and not just one area,” she said. “It’s your career, your personal life, it all ties together.”

- Stephanie.Cline@csbj.com