You started the new year with a bang! You set resolutions and hit the ground running… But then it seemed like everything just came to a stop. Work obligations, stress, and a bunch of tiny things you can’t put your finger on consumed your time and your resolutions when out the door.
You’re not alone.
While creating New Year’s resolutions around your career is quite common, only 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions are successful.
According to research, the three most common reasons people struggle to keep their resolutions include not being specific enough, using negative language, and making resolutions about what you don’t want (versus ones centered around what you DO want).
Resolutions need to have specificity and a way to measure success. Resolutions need to be stated using positive language. We attract what we think about most. So, if you resolve to stop wasting money, you’re focused on… wasting money… and it’s hard to think about anything else. Instead, resolve to save 10% of your pay each month. Lastly, resolutions are for you. When you allow friends, family, or work to influence your resolutions, they often do not reflect what you really want.
The good news is that you can always start over, reframe your resolutions and get back on track.
But before we begin, I want to answer a common question I get as a career coach: What are some good goals to have for your career? My response is almost always the same – your goals need to focus on the direction you authentically want to move as you progress through your career… And a lot of that has to do with knowing what your core skill set is, and how to harness it. From there, you can intentionally create your career path.
I wrote a great article to get started with developing your career path, so I’ll be brief here. Spend time in self-reflection, not only about your career but also on yourself, your values, skills, and passions. The next steps include setting goals and developing a plan. And that brings us back to reframing and focusing on this year’s career resolutions to be successful.
- Reframe your career resolutions. If you set resolutions based on what you should be doing, reframe those based on what you want to be doing. You don’t want to feel pushed by your goals– you want them to feel like they’re pulling you. That means there needs to be a sense of inspiration and less punishment at the helm of them. Hopefully, you’ve taken time for self-reflection. You might have a list on paper or at the very least in your head about what is important to you in your career. These are the things you want. Reframe your resolutions using positive words based on where you want to go: I resolve to open a side business this year that I will work towards becoming my full-time career. Also, when writing down your possible goals, notice how you feel in your body when you look at them. Our bodies are feedback mechanisms (our gut is called the “second brain” for a reason!) and it’s so important to tune in.
- Be specific. To realize your resolution, create SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relative, and time-bound. I wrote about SMART goals here. Think of each step you need to realize your resolution. Focus on one to three big goals at a time. Write those down and post them as a reminder to yourself.
- Develop a plan. It’s no secret that a goal without an action plan is just a dream. Dreams are great, but my wish for you is to create real and lasting change! This is why planning how you will accomplish your goals is so important. Often, we write out our goals, but don’t plan for their success. Spend enough time to brainstorm the big and small steps you need to take along the way, why those are important, and schedule time in your calendar to work on those little steps as a way to keep on pace and track.
- Limit the number of resolutions you make at a time. Taking on too much at once can be suffocating and unrealistic, especially if you’re developing a new behavior as part of your career goals. I recommend choosing just one area to devote your attention to at a time. Only after you’ve made substantial progress in realizing that resolution, should you perhaps consider making another one. New Year’s isn’t the only time of year you can resolve to make a change.
Remember, write down your resolutions and your goals. Post those where you can see them as a reminder. And start small. Biting off more than you’re ready for will only leave you frustrated. Most importantly, life is fluid so be flexible. Always ask yourself: Is this going to get me closer to achieving my career goals this year? If not, redirect your focus.