WHY CHRISTMAS COULD ACTUALLY BE THE BEST THING FOR YOUR CAREER

It's 5 weeks till Christmas (4 if, like Phanella, you're lucky enough to be heading off to Thailand when the schools break up). After work drinks are hotting up and it's a delicate balance between scrolling ASOS for your perfect Christmas party outfit and making sure targets are hit by the end of the year. With just over a month left till everything shuts down and we bury ourselves in wrapping and mince pies, it might feel like work for 2016 is effectively done. We disagree. Christmastime could actually be the turning point for your career. Here's why:

1. Look back at your achievements

Confidence is a state of mind and it's one most of us find hard to grasp. Christmastime has a particular ability to knock our self esteem as it highlights our friendships, wardrobe and networking prowess. But what if Christmas was a time you could feel your most confident? The end of the year is a perfect time to review what you've achieved since January. Look back through last year's review. How many of your goals have you achieved? Then scroll through your brag file (that place you keep complements and thanks people send you - if you're not doing this already, our confidence chapter will explain why this is something you need to start now). Finally do some free thinking. What have you done really well this year? Now, write it all down. And read what you've written. Seeing the sheer weight of achievement and praise right there in front of you will bring home your brilliance. Your confidence will be boosted and you'll be ready to go into next year with your confidence brimming. 

2. Use your review as an opportunity to self-promote

With the list of achievements by your side, you should feel unstoppable. But it's not enough for you to know what you've done. To progress at work or get more clients for your business, others need to hear the success too. Use your confidence record to create a message about what you've achieved. We talk and remember in stories. So if you can make it into a narrative even better. "I saw this problem, it affected clients in this way, I came up with this solution and this was the impact" beats "um I did this" every time. Christmas is not only time for parties, it's also when many of us have our annual review. Reviews are about receiving feedback, yes. But they're also the ideal opportunity to shout about what you've done to a captive audience. We say don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Use your review to make sure your boss knows exactly what you've achieved this year. 

3. Work the Christmas drinks

At this time of year our social life is on overdrive especially at work. Make the most of the opportunity. With your year of achievement in the tip of your tongue, Conveniently crafted into a compelling story, you're that much better placed to roll it out when appropriate. Go into each set of drinks with a plan of attack. Whether it's bosses or clients, have a couple of targets for each event and one message you want to deliver. Keep the rest of the time free for chance encounters (oh and fun of course). 

4. Jump into the Breach

You might be lucky enough to be heading away like Phanella (in which case jump straight to 5 below). But if you're Alice, staying behind to hold the fort, you have a brilliant window to step up to the plate. Financial markets often do funny things in the holidays. With the senior bankers away, juniors take over and decisions get less informed, yes, but bolder and more innovative too. With lots of key players away now is your chance to take on projects you've always fancied or take charge in meetings in which you'd normally take a back seat. You'll have proven your worth and be better placed to convert that into increased opportunity in the new year.

5. Rest

This is the big one. December will be manic - especially if you implement our plan - and it's tempting to carry that right through to New Year's Eve. Don't. When you clock out on December 24th do just that. Clock out. Switch off your email. Leave that project on your desk. Turn off the endless Instagram feed of aspirational Festive food and decor (tough one we know). Really take the time to rest. Our minds and bodies can't continue at warp speed indefinitely. Use the lull to take a proper break (hint: plenty of places do pre-cooked Christmas lunch or, better yet, go to your folks). Your body will thank you and so will your career.