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    Our Guide to Reflecting on 2023 and Planning Your Career for the Year Ahead

    January is a natural time for reflection; after a restful Christmas period it can feel refreshing to take stock, make resolutions, and get ready for the year ahead. This is also a perfect time to reflect on your professional life – approximately 1 in 5 people begin their search for a new job in January1. The frequency of job opportunities also increases in the New Year, as budgets are updated and teams expanded.

    As a career coaching firm, we highly encourage professionals to utilise this period as a way to reflect on your recent year’s journey and consider the year ahead. The following questions can be useful to consider:

    • What has been successful this year?
    • What has limited your success? How can you change this for next year?
    • What is important for you for the year ahead?
    • What goals would you like to achieve next year? Who/What will support you in achieving these?

    We discuss in this article the areas of life that you should be examining when evaluating your job satisfaction in the New Year. We hope this provides a useful framework for effective reflection and to help you to structure next steps in your career journey.

    Work/Life Balance

    Personal time is vital for us to achieve a holistic, well-rounded life, where we can seek fulfilment in other areas of life, but also recharge and prepare  for  work and new projects or opportunities. The Center for the Advancement of Teaching concluded that full, restful breaks are essential for our health, and increase motivation, productivity and creativity2. Does your current employer respect your time off? If you find yourself expecting to reply rapidly to work emails on your day off, or wouldn’t be surprised if you were asked to jump on a call or visit the office for a meeting during your annual leave, then it might be time to consider your work/life balance. This kind of working is often brushed off and normalized, but a great employer knows that time to switch off from working is a non-negotiable in achieving sustained productivity and success, whilst also preventing burnout.


    A recent study found that on average less than 30% of European workers feel ‘fulfilled’ by their occupation3.  With regards to the IP industry, we often speak with attorneys who are perhaps working in unhealthy cultures whereby targets are only obtainable when billing unrealistic hours. This can lead to over-working, a busyness culture of inefficient working and a highly unmotivated workforce. If you can relate to feeling a lack of investment, long-term reward and impact in your current role, then it is certainly worthwhile evaluating how to address this.

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      The relationships you form and maintain at work are crucial to job satisfaction, particularly if you work as part of a team. It is important to be managed by someone you feel cares about your development and wellbeing. Do you feel as though you are respected, and your expertise valued, within the team? Are you operating in a positive work environment with – in general – supportive colleagues? On the surface, in a virtual working environment, relationships can seem less important. However, this may just be the opposite. To feel valued, supported and connected takes more effort when working virtually. Considering your support, working culture and relationships is vital when assessing overall job satisfaction.

      Remuneration and Benefits

      It is sometimes difficult to know how your salary and benefits compare within your industry – although salaries are becoming more commonly discussed, many people still feel uncomfortable revealing how much they are paid. However, it is important to have an understanding of the market to ensure your work is rewarded in line with your experience, knowledge and skills. Networking is crucial to glean information about the salary landscape in your area of IP MWA also conduct salary surveys within the industry and regularly have career calls with professionals where we can discuss our views of the market. Another thing to consider is the rewards you receive outside of your salary – do you have, for example, remote flexibility and adequate holidays?

      Impact: Beyond Remuneration

      Whilst financial incentives are important to maintain a quality of life, they are only a small part of the picture. A role that provides an opportunity to be part of a bigger mission and make long-term impacts is highly rewarding – both professionally and personally. Speak with your managers to discuss how your role fits in with the development of the company; how are you contributing? What can they do to make this clear and support your chance of having long-term impacts?

      Next Steps

      We understand that it can be extremely daunting to assess these areas and find that you might not be satisfied, particularly if you have been in the same position for several years. If you would like to reach out to us at MWA, our consultants are available for a short career strategy call to assess where you might want to go next.

      Our advice to candidates who are feeling uncertain  about their current position is to be proactive: reflect and make a plan, devise areas to discuss with your managers, and perhaps re-engage your network, update your CV and stay current in the industry.

      If you have self-reflected and come away perfectly satisfied, this exercise is still highly useful. Consider where you are now and evaluate your position a year ago the same way. Have you grown in your career and/or personal life since then? Why? Use this framework as the basis for your goals for the next year. Picture where you want to be another year from now, and make a plan for how you are going to achieve this. It is also important to ensure your work and efforts are not  taken for granted; it is still crucial to network within your industry, keeping you up to date with the job climate and opportunities coming up.

      In short, now is the perfect time to pause, and take stock of where you are in your personal and professional life. The year is often so busy that we forget to look back and see the progress we have made over the last 12 months. This reflection is so important – not just when considering a change of job, but in setting aspirational goals for the following year.

      The MWA team wishes you a restful Christmas break and a happy New Year, with all the opportunities it brings!

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