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Broken your New Year’s work resolution? Get back on track with these tips


Has your enthusiasm waned for the New Year’s work resolution you set last month? The start of a new year is a great time to set goals to advance your career, learn a new skill or improve your performance. But by February, more people have broken their resolution than made genuine progress. 
 
So, if you’ve found yourself off track and are now wondering how to keep your New Year’s resolution for your career, here are some tips to help you get back on course.
 

Plan for success

Failing to start small is the most common reason people don’t follow through with New Year’s resolutions. Most resolutions involve a huge amount of change, which can seem overwhelming unless you break your one aspirational goal down into small and specific weekly tasks. 
 
By breaking down your resolution into manageable and achievable weekly activities, you can take one step at a time. Crucially, you’ll also experience early wins, which will boost your motivation, helping to keep you on track. You’ll no longer feel overwhelmed and each week you’ll move one noticeable step closer to achieving your specific New Year’s resolution by December 2021. 
 

Block out enough time – and commit to it

Time management doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But if you don’t block out enough time to realistically achieve your weekly goal, you’ll fail at your resolution before you even start. 
 
If you have found it difficult to allocate enough time each week to achieve your weekly goal, it may help to begin by blocking out just five minutes a day to work on your goal for the week. Once this becomes a habit, you can gradually increase the amount of time you dedicate to your career resolution each week.  
 
If necessary, set an alarm, download a planning app or make a recurring appointment in your calendar to ensure you stop and spend time working on your goal. Such simple tricks can turn the tide and help you stick to your New Year’s resolution.
 
Don’t let the odd setback get you down though. After all, there will be weeks when your workload spikes and other priorities take precedence. So, rather than letting this derail you, view each Monday as a new opportunity to start your week fresh and work towards your goal once more.
 

Focus on one resolution at a time

You may have a long list of resolutions you’d like to achieve, but realistically there is only so much time in the day. Knowing how to make New Year’s resolutions stick means not overestimating what you can achieve in a year. If you do, you’ll spread yourself too thin and won’t have enough time to achieve any resolution properly. 
 
If this describes you, one option is to review your resolutions and prioritise based on what will have the biggest impact or is the most time-sensitive. Then, focus your time and effort on achieving your most pressing resolution first. 
        
 

Work with a trusted colleague

Finding the motivation to achieve your New Year’s resolution can be a lot easier when someone else is helping to keep you accountable. It’s a good idea, therefore, to talk to a trusted colleague, friend or family member about your resolution and weekly plan. After all, you’re more likely to put in the work each week when you know that someone will be asking you regularly about your progress!
 
Importantly, if your motivation starts to slip, this person can offer encouragement to get you back on track. Then, if she or he is also working towards their own goal, you can reciprocate by giving them a boost whenever they need it. In this way, you’ll help keep each other accountable. 
 
Achieving your resolution may also require the assistance of others. For example, if your resolution is to learn a new skill to help you perform an aspect of your job better, perhaps you could talk to your boss. Explain the rationale behind your resolution, then ask if you can be provided with a suitable stretch opportunity to develop the skill on-the-job. If not, could you take time off to attend a formal course?
 

Monitor your progress

It’s important to focus each week on what you have accomplished rather than what you are yet to achieve. The former serves to keep your mindset positive, while the latter only leads to despondency and falling motivation. 
 
So, track your progress and when you achieve each week’s goal, congratulate yourself on taking another step towards achieving your career New Year’s resolution. 
 

Understand that change isn’t easy

Any change takes a certain amount of time and a huge commitment. You may even be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. But if you can remind yourself of the reason you set this goal for your career in the first place, you’ll keep your eye on the prize. 
 
Similarly, if you are feeling despondent because you thought you’d have made more progress by now, stop and reassess. Realistically examine the time and energy you’ve dedicated so far to your goal – has it been enough to make genuine progress? If it has, you may need to adjust your action plan. If it hasn’t, block out extra time each week to work on your resolution. 
 

Use February to reset

There’s no doubt about it, following through on a career New Year’s resolution is hard. But rather than throwing in the towel, use these tips to reset and work towards achieving your resolution during the remainder of the year. 
 
Don’t forget, if you haven’t set your resolution yet and aren’t sure where to start, these tips may help. 
 

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

Follow Nick on LinkedIn

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