By Brenda Johnson, Work, Careers and Job @40+

What is on your career menu for 2018? A new job, developing a retirement strategy, securing your current job or researching how to start a business? How will you make 2018 different from other years when you thought: this is the year, something has to change! Try these three steps to make this the year of your professional breakthrough.

1. Commit to Action: The difference between the person who dreams big and the person who makes that dream come true is action. There are those who manage by spreadsheet. Every organization has a manager with a tracker for everything—expense trackers, attendance spreadsheets, their staff is so busy filling out Excel spread-sheets very little else was done. It is a classic case of analysis paralysis. There are those who dream of changing jobs or creating an exit plan from work for years and it never happens. If taking the action step is hard for you—create or join an accountability group, enlist a career coach or work with a trusted mentor. At the very minimum, every day take step toward your dream no matter how small.

2. Inspire Yourself: Did Nelson Mandela dream he could be President of South Africa while he spent 27 years in prison? When J.K. Rowling was an unemployed single mother on public assistance and her manuscript was consistently rejected for over a year; did she think Harry Potter would make her the first billionaire writer?

Ursula Burns is not a household name but she’s the little girl who grew up in a New York housing project with a single mother working two jobs that became the first Black woman in America to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She has led Xerox for the past five years. Do whatever it takes for you to become inspired—listen to motivational speakers or listen to music that pumps you up.

Try podcasts of interesting TED Talks in your car, audio books and of course, great collections of music. Once you decide who or what inspires you decide how you can tap into that energy.

3. Have Fun: Life is short. We are constantly reminded of that and every day was no different. Celebrate small achievements: you didn’t miss any meetings of your Master Mind group; you took PTO to “shadow” someone in the career you’re interested in pursuing and you watched a YouTube video or webinar to move you closer to your goal. Maybe you discovered your goal needs a tweak. Smile!

Re-search studies have shown smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. It also activates the release of molecules that work toward fighting off stress. Plus, smiles are contagious!It’s kind of fun to watch other people smile back at you.

Gratitude is terribly underrated, and finding something to be grateful about keeps life in perspective.

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