So it’s 2013 and the trend is to commit to a new year’s resolution. Well you can diet, delete people from Facebook, and claim that you will never say another curse word for the year, but we know that in February your “chunky” bottom will be right back at Burger King cursing out the clerk to those same Facebook friends for messing up your order. No? I guess that’s just my crowd. How about this year we leave those resolutions and the excuses behind in 2012 and start making life long changes…of the professional kind.

Number 1: “My friends don’t have jobs or working towards their career, so I’m normal!” Evaluate the company you keep.

We are all unique individuals and no two people are ever the same. However, we as people naturally pick up traits by osmosis from the people we spend time with. It is no secret that the rich are friends with the rich, or businessmen associate with other businessmen (golf course anyone?). These people feed off of one another in order to become successful or stay successful. They have similar aspirations and only want to mingle with people who are about getting to the top of the food chain. So evaluate your network of friends. What do they want in a career? Do they have any long-term goals? Do they have jobs? Do they work hard? Are they responsible? Are they taking any type of action to achieve their goals? What are they doing? Now here is the most important question, are you? If those questions are hard for you to answer for your friends and yourself then you have a big problem.

Now I am not telling you to discard your friends. I am telling you to lead by example and change how you operate. You are self-aware and you know the problem. You are going to have to spend less time with the friends that are not trying to be successful. This change is going to rattle the foundations of the friendship and bring stress to the relationship. Depending on the strength of the relationship will determine if these friends are in your life to enhance it or deteriorate it. Maybe they will change with you or they may just think you are conformist republican.

Number 2: “No one is giving me a chance!”

When I was in high school the thing to do was have an after school job. All my friends had one and when we went to the mall they were shopping like they had an unlimited credit card and here I was with my $40 allowance. I had to pretend like I did not like anything I saw just so I would not have to utter the words, “I can’t afford that.”  Not a big deal now, but I was 15. So I started applying to get a job and I did not get a job after submitting my application to 30 places. I did get a job with application #31. I almost quit trying and I definitely said, “No one is giving me a chance.”

This comment is super juvenile and completely worthless in trying to upgrade yourself. It seems as if people think that if employers just gave them a chance then they would bust in the business and knock the socks off the boss. In my scenario, I was applying to places with no experience and could not meet the qualifications if I had magic powers. I finally accepted help from my parents and applied to a job that was more my speed, Smoothie King. It’s not that I lowered my expectations, but I found something that I could start with and work my way up. I had to start at the bottom. So for all you college graduates that think you are going to get the corner office at the biggest firm in the city….try again. Try getting the cubicle at the biggest firm in the city and work your way to the corner office.

Number 3: “I wear whatever.” Your appearance matters.

That’s it. Your appearance matters. You have to be appropriately dressed, smell good or not at all, comb your hair, keep up your hygiene, and wear clean clothes without holes.  Simple. Yet people think that it’s an option. I do not care what you do on your time, but you need to dress for the job you want on your employer’s time. You can still be creative and bring your own personality in to what you wear. Just make sure it is within company dress code.

Number 4: “CHUG!” Work hard and then play.

Gone are the days of two dollar Tuesdays, wild Wednesdays, thirsty Thursdays, etc. They should be replaced with the after work cocktail, happy hours, business dinners, and networking mixers. The days of the professional getting wasted on a weekday should be few and far in between. Enjoy the evening drink with friends and family, but remember that you need to go to work the next morning. Hangovers any morning Monday – Friday is not a good look and will ultimately destroy your chances for advancement or may jeopardized the current job you have. Is the first thing you want your employer to think about when they are choosing a new manager is how you are a possible alcoholic and consistently smells like alcohol? No, it’s not. Stop it.

Number 5: “I can’t do this by myself.” Be Independent. 

Nothing is wrong with asking for help. I ask for help all the time. Well…I should. The thing is no one will ever confuse me with being dependent or a leech. There are people in this world that would rather get someone else to do their work or take over their responsibilities when they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves. Is that person you? Dependence is a success killer. It should be a rule of thumb to try a task before asking for help, but never wait until it is too late to ask. Also, a tidbit to consider is what happens when your go to person is no longer available. This applies to work and home.