What’s your new work year resolution?

For many people, the start of a New Year is a good time to wave goodbye to bad habits and look ahead to new beginnings. We take time out from our usually busy lives to consider what we want to achieve, improve and learn to make the year ahead more successful than the last. 
After a tumultuous 2020, most people are certainly looking forward to a better 2021. COVID-19 thwarted career plans, saw priorities shift and prompted employees to consider what’s really important to them and their future.

Fortunately, Australia’s/New Zealand’s job market is bouncing back, and skills are in demand so it’s the ideal time to set your plans for the year ahead.

But all too often and all too soon, lofty resolutions set in the New Year are forgotten. Frequently, by 31st January, our workload has intensified, our spare time has become scarce and our New Year’s resolutions are forgotten. 

Set SMART New Year work resolutions

To break that cycle and get your career back on track in 2021, our advice is to make your goals SMART, or in other words specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Vague resolutions such as “Earn a promotion” or “Make more money” are too ambiguous. In contrast, “Improve my communication and leadership skills and by December 2021 present evidence of my successes to my boss to show I’m promotion-ready” is much clearer. Crucially, the latter can be more easily broken down into achievable steps, each with a realistic timeframe.

If you’re not sure what career-related resolutions to focus on this year, here are seven concrete goals to consider to start your New Year at work right:

Resolution #1: Find a new job

According to a recent poll we conducted of over 2,500 people, 74 per cent said their work New Year resolution is to find a new job. With career plans placed on hold in 2020 as people rode out the pandemic in their existing role, many are now looking ahead with a positive attitude and renewed determination to get their career plan back on track.
So, if you want to look for a new job in 2021 where you can succeed and thrive, you need to put a plan in place. Think about what you want from your next job, update your CV, pair your online and offline content and prepare quantifiable examples of previous successes.  By making this a New Year’s resolution, you’ll take a brave step towards making the most of your career this year.
Remembering the importance of making your goals SMART, you can also download our free My Career Goal Planner, which walks you through the process of setting achievable goals. 

Resolution #2: Learn a new skill

Identify one or two new skills that you can develop this year. Either focus on skills you need to improve or new skills that could be useful to your ongoing career longevity and success. Then take charge of your development by deciding how you’ll upskill (AU) / how you’ll upskill (NZ), such as working on a stretch project or attending regular webinars.
To achieve this New Year’s resolution, make sure you diarise regular learning opportunities and review progress at least twice during the year.

Resolution #3: Ask your boss about regular remote working

If you are a non-essential worker who enjoyed the benefits of remote working in 2020, you may want to retain some form of flexibility post-pandemic. In fact, according to our Hays Barometer Report 55 per cent of employers say regular remote working is now more important to them in a job.

But while much has been written about the expected shift towards hybrid working, not every employer has embraced it. So, if you want to continue to work from home and your boss is yet to announce their flexible working plan, follow these tips to ensure you ask your boss in the right way. 

Resolution #4: Trial various approaches to work-life balance

Striking the right balance between our work and personal life isn’t easy and everyone’s idea of the perfect work-life balance is different. If you want to improve your balance this year, trialling different approaches makes for a good New Year’s resolution as it allows you to identify the method that works best for you – and your employer.
For example, one month you could start and finish work an hour earlier to take the kids to the park after school, while the next you could turn your work phone off at 7pm every night to spend time doing something you enjoy. By experimenting in this way, as the year progresses your ideal solution to improving your work-life balance will become clear. 

Resolution #5: Start a side hustle

Starting a side hustle allows you to get out of your milieu and experience new working environments, industries and career paths, while earning extra income. Most people grow their side job around something they are passionate about, but to be successful you also need to ensure you’re meeting a market need.
Starting a side hustle isn’t easy though. Balancing it around your full-time job means working early or late every day. In other words, the time you’d normally spend relaxing or socialising needs to be diverted into your side hustle. You also need a lot of grit and determination to make it succeed. If this sounds like you, growing a side hustle could be a good New Year’s resolution to consider. 

Resolution #6: Improve your time management

Many of us start each New Year by resolving to manage our time more effectively. But a swelling inbox and long to-do list soon take over and we end up rushing around our workplace, struggling to complete our most important tasks.
The good news is that effective time management is not hard and can be broken into three main goals: prioritisation of your urgent and important tasks, time-blocking and committing to your plan. To help you set – and keep – this New Year’s resolution, we’ve produced these time management tips.

Resolution #7: Find a mentor

A good mentor can make your career. Not only will they encourage you and open doors, but they’ll help you navigate the world of work and overcome any skill or knowledge gaps. So, if you don’t already have a mentor, finding one is an obvious New Year’s resolution.

Start by identifying what it is that you need help with, then look within your network for someone who is an expert in this area who you admire. Make sure you approach them in an authentic way and, if they agree to mentor you, nurture the relationship. To get you started, here’s our advice on how to be a successful mentee.

Set weekly goals 

While grand plans sound impressive, the reality is that you need to break yours down into smaller achievable weekly goals if you are to work towards achieving your ultimate resolution. So, our advice is to take a few moments every Monday morning to think of one small and achievable goal. Then time-block enough minutes or hours in your calendar to achieve it – after all, your goals aren’t going to help you improve or achieve anything if you don’t action them.
Having said this, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t meet a weekly target. Priorities do change and, sometimes, there will be a week when meeting a goal simply isn’t possible. Luckily, every Monday provides a clean slate to start working towards achieving your resolutions again.
Good luck.


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