As 2014 comes to a close, I like to look back and revue the good bad and the ugly from the year. The only way to improve yourself and your circumstances is to carry out an exercise such as this. 2014 brought me to a new challenge; starting a business from the ground up. I have truly enjoyed the task and it has not come without frustration, joy and satisfaction. My partner and I have received much advice, but there is no advice that over rules common sense and examining the facts.

As a reflection for 2014, I offer these 5 ways to enhance your career for the New Year:

#5 – Clean up your Social Media. Social media is the way people research you.  If you do not have a LinkedIn, you probably don’t want to develop your career. LinkedIn is for you work and Facebook is for your friends; don’t confuse the two. The first thing someone does after you hand them a card is to go to LinkedIn, see where you went to school, where you worked and send you an invitation. Second thing they do is go to Google and see unwanted pictures of you in college (haha… just kidding). The invitation is an extension of their team and (in most cases) you should graciously accept. I would highly suggest having a professional picture taken of yourself for your account. Why? If I was hiring someone as a Project Manager (example), do I want to see a picture of him from 1986? Do I want to see a picture of him with his puppy or him at a Yankees game? No! I want to view his Professional profile. Take this seriously; you can joke around and show your personality later.

#4 – Challenge Yourself. This is near and dear to my heart. You need to review your actions, the results and ask yourself “How can I do this better” and “How can improve the outcome”. I was taught to under-promise and over- deliver. If you are stale in your job and sit around complaining, you only have yourself to blame. There is plenty enough information on the internet to research and build a better mouse trap. I like to continue to challenge myself on a daily basis, which in turn, challenges the people around me. Knowledge is strength and we live in the best country in the world. If other people can come to America and succeed, it is a shame to sit around and complain that you cannot. Challenge yourself to be in better shape, excel at work, home and your relationships. It’s all there, you just need to get motivated and do it!

#3 – Participate. It is amazing to me how many people are arm chair quarterbacks. Here is an example: I am in extensive negotiations with a very large customer for a service contract. This is going on for a few weeks and each call is literally hours. After it is all over, I have three or four people come to me and tell me; you should have done this, you should have said this… really? How about a little participation? You have a voice and can offer advice. Anyone can look after it’s over and point out flaws. Grab the bull and ride it! Jump in and help with the decision. Show you have a brain and can offer something and maybe, you will progress in your life. There are no stupid questions.

#2 – Show patience.  I am not the most understanding of people and am working to be a more patient person. We all want things done quickly, defiantly, with no mistakes, but it often doesn’t happen that way. First thing is to be thoughtful towards my family and friends. They are part of my core and I need them more than they need me. Who wants to be around someone that is demanding and impatient? Second thing, have patience for others around you. I really don’t know what is happening in the lives of people I work with, my customers and perfect strangers, BUT a smile and civility is contagious. I have tried a test that I challenge you to try. Go to a public place, preferably a very busy service place, such as Starbucks. Look at the people in line and see the energy they put into the person on the other side of the counter. Drones! You get out what you put in. Now, smile, ask the person taking your order how they are, if they put any lights up for Christmas, say please and thank you and see how they respond. It never fails to amaze me that they will always smile back and be very receptive. Give a little to get a lot.

#1 – Help someone else. Most of us have had a level of success. I would say it is an earned reward, but there are others that are less fortunate. You can have success at work, make tons of money, have a good looking family, but never help out someone else. That is the responsibility of someone else. Guess who that someone else is? Give someone less fortunate than you your time… Time is a valuable asset. I had great parents that often helped out folks that were less fortunate and they were really alongside them. I mean they were not that better off than the people they were assisting. What little we had, they shared and it was very inspiring as I got older. As a kid, you don’t understand that many people will struggle throughout their life. The people that succumb to asking for help are people that do not have any other choice. They cannot succeed alone. It is very rewarding to volunteer. There are a number of organizations you can work with; Habitat for humanity, your local city, the boy scouts, the girl scouts, and the local church. Hold your hand out and give some time… If you give two days over the course of a year, you will feel so much more in your life. Try it. I guarantee you will be a believer in humanity and be a great example for those around you. Imagine the world if we all offered up this two day challenge?