It’s almost impossible to think of the term “New Years” without the word “resolutions” immediately bubbling up. New Years resolutions are one of our most long lasting traditions — and one of our most regularly broken ones as well. Those healthy eating resolutions rarely last into February, and that commitment to visit the gym for three hours every single of the day the week? Yeah, that’s just dust in the rearview mirror.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. By choosing just a few reasonable goals, you’ll be a lot more likely to follow through. And when these resolutions relate to work, you’ll not only grow your career but you’ll also see benefits for your personal life. As you look forward to the year ahead, here are just a few career resolutions that just might work for you.
1. Tackling One New Challenge Every Quarter
Whether you love your job or it’s just that thing you do between Monday and Friday, feeling like you’ve stagnated is a big career killer. Perhaps you’ve mastered everything there is to master, or maybe you’re sick of your niche. Whatever the issue, tackling new challenges will engage your mind in new and interesting ways, potentially reminding you of why you got into this industry in the first place or setting you on a new path.
Feel free to customize this resolution to your own industry or needs. You might, for example, challenge yourself not to check email more than twice a day for a week, and then try to hold a walking meeting every day the following week. Alternatively, you could volunteer for a project entirely outside of your skillset, or overhauling your standard operating method for something new. Change up your challenge every day, week, month, quarter or year to suit your motivations. Just make sure to stick to whatever structure you choose.
2. Heading Up a Volunteer Effort
It’s far too easy to get caught up in the everyday working grind. Before you know it, you feel entirely self-focused and work has lost a little bit of meaning. Volunteering with a cause you feel passionate about will add purpose back into your everyday experience, but why do it on your own time when you could get the whole office involved? Chances are your bosses will love the opportunity to build company goodwill outside of the office setting. Not only will they be impressed with your initiative, but throughout your volunteer work you will likely demonstrate skills they didn’t even know you had, which can be enormously beneficial for securing roles higher up that you’re even more passionate about. And hey, volunteering just feels good — and does good — too.
3. Reaching Out to My Manager for Mentoring
No matter how driven you may be, mentoring from a good manager can be invaluable in growing your perspective and increasing your job prospects — all the more so if it’s a management role to which you aspire. A good mentor will help you see opportunities where you didn’t realize they existed, help you build the skills you need to thrive,address any weaknesses, and provide regular support as you grow your career. Any manager who truly loves managing people will likely be more open to nurturing you than you might think — in fact, they may even be honored. So don’t hesitate to reach out.
4. Looking After My Body
This may sound more like a personal than a work resolution, but we’re not talking about heading to the gym here (though we recommend doing that too). Rather, we mean resolving to work in ways that support your body, rather than pushing it to the limit and risking injury.
A product as simple as a wireless ergonomic keyboard is a great place to start (especially if you do a lot of typing), as it will guide your wrists, hands, and arms into an ideal typing position. In so doing, you’ll not only be less likely to develop a repetitive strain injury (RSI) like carpal tunnel syndrome, but you’ll also work more quickly, efficiently, and comfortably. This in turn will leave more of your mind free for creativity and productivity, which will further grow your career prospects. Apply this same logic to any number of ergonomic interventions, and the time you spend at work and beyond can only improve.
5. Looking After My Mind and Soul
It’s not just your body that needs limits. It’s also important to look after your mind and soul. Working to actively achieve life balance with clear boundaries and specific initiatives is key here, whether that means not answering emails after a certain hour of night (put down that smartphone!), asking your manager if you can have more flex time, or simply developing stress management strategies, like starting your day with meditation or spending your lunchbreak with a good book. We all de-stress in different ways, so we’ll leave the specifics up to you; the important thing is just to ensure you prioritizing this balance.
6. Moving Up to a Management Position By the End of the Year
If you’ve always pictured yourself in a management position, New Years is a great time to start charting that path. You already work hard of course, but are there any other specific steps you can take to get yourself from point A to point B? Can you maybe take on more responsibilities, subscribe to internal job mailing lists, or have a talk with your boss?
If management isn’t in your cards then perhaps a different kind of promotion or raise will be motivating. Whatever you choose, just make sure your goals for moving up are challenging and motivating.
7. Taking One Professional Development Course
If you’re dissatisfied with your current career or in a rut, professional development courses can help re-energize you and give you creative new ideas for your job. Even if you’re currently happy, these kinds of courses may be requirements for stepping up to your next big role. The New Year is the perfect time to browse course catalogs, make a selection or two, and see if your boss might be willing to devote resources to your cause.
8. Tackling My Inbox
If you’ve got thousands of unread emails lingering in your inbox — or maybe even just several hundred — now would be a great time to clear them out ermh, respond in a clear, intelligent, witty and comprehensive manner. Archive, trash, create folders and filters, reply with apologies — whatever you do, you’ll feel cleansed of anxiety when that number next to your inbox reads “0.” And your contacts will feel less anxiety, too.
If you’re an overachiever, even the idea of delegating tasks and responsibilities can make your heart flutter — and not in a good way. But you’ll do better at the tasks you do keep on your plate when you send the rest to other competent people. Even more so, you’ll enjoy what you’re doing (or learn to, once you stop worrying) when you can specialize and really focus on knocking that given task out of the park. So build a team of communicative, work horses who you can really trust, and then resolve to let go.
10. Forgiving Myself Once in Awhile
Last but not least, in any discussion about resolutions it’s always important to discuss the concept of forgiving yourself — especially if you don’t wind up following through on every single resolution you’ve tacked on to the list. At the end of the day, it’s better to try and fail than not to try at all, and if you put too much stress on yourself to achieve lofty goals, you’ll only get paralyzed. So practice a little self-acceptance, and resolve to try your best in everything this year, but not beat yourself up if you don’t realize every last goal to the degree you’d like to.
Have a work resolution you’d like to share? Let us know all about it in the comments below!