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career planning‘Tis the season to decorate our homes, drink eggnog at Holiday parties, and buy gifts off each other’s wish lists. The experience of asking one another what’s on a wish list can always be a little awkward – mostly because they are going to turn and ask you the same question! When they do, are you ready to say exactly what it is so that you don’t end up with fruitcake?!

To make sure no one is disappointed in the wish list gift-giving process, you have to get clear about three things – three things that just so happen to be the basics of how you can grow your career, ensuring you get exactly what’s on your career wish list.

  1. Say what you really want.

No one can read your mind, which is why it’s essential you clearly state exactly what you want!

If you don’t do this with your Holiday wish list, you might end up with a tacky sweater from your mother-in-law that you feel obligated to where around her. The same goes for your job. During your yearly review, you MUST let your manager know your goals for your career. This is the chance to talk about your future openly. If you don’t say anything, your supervisor will likely think you are happy right where you are.

  1. Get specific – and be careful what you ask for.

Maybe you asked for “socks” but really wanted a certain brand. Or possibly you saw a commercial for a nifty looking house cleaning gadget, but didn’t realize it was made with cheep plastic, breaking the first time you used it!

To avoid disappointment, don’t just say you want “new opportunities.” Tell your manager what specific skills you want to master or what prospects you would like to take on. But before you ask, do a little fact-finding. Make sure you look at the upside and downside of every opportunity before requesting it. Go into it with a good understanding, knowing there’s definitely positive promise.

  1. Gratefulness goes a long way.

There’s few feelings as disappointing as that of giving a gift and being able to tell that it wasn’t appreciated – or worse, even acknowledged. It’s one thing for little kids to open up packages one after the other without spending time to appreciate each gift fully. But adults should know better, be it a gift at the Holidays or a gift in one’s career.

When opportunities come your way, make sure to acknowledge those who made it happen and/or the people who have encouraged you along the way. Keep your expectations in check and realize that no one achieves greatness on their own.

During this Holiday season, be ready to give a clear answer to the question “What do you want?” Be specific, and above all else, be grateful with the outcome. Then apply the same behavior to your career!