So you had your annual performance review at work, and it didn't go as well as expected. Maybe your boss had a lot of criticism. Or perhaps it's not that you did anything wrong, per se, but rather, you simply didn't push yourself hard enough to achieve results. No matter your circumstances, if you want 2018 to be the year your career really takes off, here are a few items to add to your must-do list.

1. Take charge more often

If you work for a large company, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. So if you really want to stand out next year, and thus increase your chances of climbing the corporate ladder, you'll need to show your management team that you have the ability to take the lead on major projects and run with it. As the new year kicks off, you're likely to see a host of initiatives come to the table. Grab one. And then do it again, and another time after that. Prove that you're a natural leader, and you'll likely be rewarded for it.

Professionally dressed woman smiling


2. Take credit for your accomplishments

Though modesty is a good quality in theory, there comes a point when it's not such a great idea to downplay your successes at work. Next year, make a point of highlighting your personal wins so that your boss not only takes notice, but also takes them into consideration when deciding whether you'll get promoted. Of course, this isn't to say you should toot your own horn at every possible opportunity. But if, say, you put together a marketing brochure and get great feedback from your sales team, you shouldn't hesitate to tell your boss how much everyone gushed over your work.

3. Learn to rock your presentations

Whether you're speaking in front of a couple of people or a much larger crowd, presenting successfully is often a matter of strategy and practice. If your presentations have been average thus far, make 2018 the year you really hone them. Work on making eye contact with your audience, and boost your graphics skills to give the folks you're speaking to something compelling to look at. Learning how to really nail presentations will give you the edge you need to get ahead.

4. Push back when necessary

Nobody wants to be that person who balks at an ambitious request. But if you maintain the habit of agreeing to do things and falling short because those requests are unreasonable in nature, you're only going to end up hurting your career. Next year, pledge to push back when people come to you with impossible demands. If, for example, you're booked solid for the remainder of the week, and you're asked to take on another big assignment, be clear about your predicament, and ask to either bow out gracefully, or have something else taken off your plate. It's natural to want to come off as the resident superhero, but if you take on too much, you risk letting everyone down -- not to mention stressing yourself out to an unhealthy degree.

5. Check in more frequently with your boss

It's hard to know what your boss is thinking -- and how your performance stacks up -- if you hardly ever get a chance to sit down and talk to him. Next year, pledge to be more proactive in soliciting manager feedback. Send your boss emails as necessary to gauge his reaction to your work, or ask to set up a recurring one-on-one meeting so that you both have a chance to regularly hash things out. Knowing how your boss feels about you and the work you're doing will help you get ahead of issues that, if left unaddressed, might hold your career back.

We all want to be as successful as possible at work. If 2017 didn't go the way you planned, then it's time to move on and focus on the future. With any luck, 2018 will be the year you land a promotion, get a nice raise, or achieve whatever other goal you've been working toward.