By Susana Carrizosa, a journalist working with El País
In the Chinese horoscope, 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster, a feisty creature that represents fearlessness and leadership. This calendar promises a great year for people who, based on their determination, know how to plan a route towards successfully achieving their goals. Enough of New Year’s resolutions, it is time to kick into action and focus your energy on the following four steps that are going to set out your roadmap to success this year.
1. Refresh or change your profession. Why not? The labour market is generating new professional opportunities that may interest you. In the report by Adecco entitled ‘The Future of Work in Spain”, 65% of HR experts believe that automation will destroy jobs at the same rate it creates them. Take some time to reflect on which field you want to move towards. Digitization brings with it an avalanche of opportunities (manufacture 4.0, gamification, cloud, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data, social media, etc.). Give a new boost to your career and you are sure to reap the benefits because, according to the report drafted by EPUNTO Interim Management entitled ‘Executive Challenges of the Digital Transformation, 50% of directors are set to be left out of the market due to a lack of digital training. Grab the reigns and take control. There is a world of Masters, MOOCs and online platforms waiting for you.
2. Full speed ahead with your English. According to the latest CIS barometer, no less than 59.8% of Spaniards admit that they cannot speak, write or read English. Don’t hold back. Go to conversation workshops and practise on Skype with native speakers. Read a chapter of a book English every day and alternate between music and listening exercises with songs, recordings and videos on your iPod or smartphone. The best websites include Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab, Lyrics Training, BBC Learning English, English Central and Breaking News English.
3. Learn to communicate. Enhance your command of the secrets of effective communication to get your point across successfully to colleagues, employees, managers and partners. According to the experts, when it comes to the skill of conveying a message, 90% is method and only 10% is innate. Practice is the key, as concluded by Adecco’s report on glossophobia (fear of speaking in public), which reveals that 75% of the population suffer some level of anxiety and nerves when communicating. A good tip is to organize your ideas into three basic points and to avoid going off on tangents. Use accessible and assertive language and vary the tone of your voice to generate interest. Speak slowly and annunciate well. Use pauses and capitalize on the power of silences. Take care of your body language and use friendly gestures. Create an atmosphere of trust in which the person who you are talking to feels comfortable. If you are able to add a small dose of humour to your point as well, you will have become an excellent communicator.
4. Take out a top-up for your retirement. The pension coffers run out in December of this year. At the end of 2016, it had a balance of 13.5 billion euros, with an accumulated deficit of 1.7%, making it unfeasible to fund pensions via current contributions. This leads to gathering funds via taxation and, to top this up, if you plan to maintain your current standard of living, you are going to need to take action. The sooner you start, the less the sacrifice will hurt. For instance, if you pay in €100 per month and you are 45 years old, you will make a saving of €25,200; at 50, your saving will be €18,000; and at 60, you will reach €6,000, all factoring in an appreciation of 4%. In addition, you can get tax breaks on your pension plans and Social Security insurance schemes when filing your tax return.