How to stick to your New Year’s career resolutions

Christina Omlor

It’s the time of year to set resolutions, but when it comes to keeping them, the results are grim. By February, only 25% of people will still be working toward their New Years resolution, and only 8% of people eventually accomplish them. This counts for your private Resolutions, as much as for your Career choices. This year, don’t just set New Year’s Career resolutions – learn how to actually keep them.

How to stick to your New Year’s career resolutions

Examine your values and areas for growth

When setting New Years career resolutions, it’s tempting to look around the office for inspiration. Unfortunately, this comparative approach to resolution setting (e.g., “get a $5,000 raise so my salary is on par with Jane’s”) can backfire. The most effective resolutions are ones that are tied to your values. Before you get started setting goals, pull out a sheet of paper and answer the following questions:

  • What aspects of my career bring me the greatest satisfaction?
  • What do I wish was different about my job?
  • What skills am I excited and proud to utilize at work?
  • What skills do I wish I had the opportunity to develop or use?
  • Looking back at the past year, what project or outcome am I most proud of?
  • If I could snap my fingers and change one thing about my job, what would it be?

Your answers to these questions will help you understand your career and life values. What you set your career resolution to be is not as important as why you want to make that change. When your New Years resolution is tied to your values, you have an intrinsic drive to make them happen.When you dig into your values, your responses might surprise you. Perhaps you truly do value that promotion or a new, higher paying job. Or perhaps you want better work-life balance, the opportunity to travel, or the ability to expand your skill set. Let these values drive your New Years career resolutions.


I learned a lot about how to make a difference” – Anonymous Employer Review at Change Healthcare


Make your New Year’s career resolutions a SMART Goal

Once you’ve identified a New Years resolution, it’s time to turn it into a SMART goal. Scientific evidence shows that using the SMART framework results in higher achievement. SMART stands for goals that are:

  • Specific. A specific goal addresses the who, what, where, and when of what you want to happen. For example, rather than “get a new job,” your New Year’s resolution might be “get a job as an event planner for a non-profit organization.”
  • Measureable. A good goal should have a measurable outcome so you know how you’re doing. Perhaps you’re eyeing a promotion and want to demonstrate your worth to the organization. Setting the goal of increasing your sales revenue by 15% helps you track your progress to ensure you meet your benchmarks.
  • Attainable. Sure, New Year’s is a great time to dream big, but you also want to ensure that your goal is attainable. If you’re currently working as an administrative assistant, making it to the C-suite by the end of the year probably won’t happen. Be realistic in your goals to make them achievable.
  • Relevant. The relevance criterion gets back to your values that you identified above. Will achieving this goal get you closer to aligning your life with your values? If not, rethink why you want to set this particular resolution.
  • Time-bound. New Years resolutions have a built-in time period — presumably, you’d like to achieve your resolution sometime this year. However, it’s also smart to build in interim milestones to keep yourself on track. Be realistic about deadlines and how much you can hope to achieve within a certain time frame.

The environment created at google is extremely included and helped me grow as a person.” – Anonymous Employer Review at Google


Once you’ve set your New Year’s career resolution, it’s all about accountability

Now that you have a specific, well-defined New Years resolution, how do you make it stick? First, think about what’s been holding you back from achieving your goal. We generally set New Year’s resolutions to challenge ourselves to do something we’ve been avoiding. After all, if it were easy, you would already have done it. Hold yourself accountable by setting a date to take action. Then, put it on your calendar to make yourself follow through.


My team leader and branch manager were key influences in inspiring me to be better – Anonymous Employer Review at Aptive Environmental


When you do follow through and make progress toward your goal, reward yourself. This helps you keep momentum and gives you extra motivation to achieve your next milestone. Teaming up with others can also keep you accountable. Reach out to colleagues to share your resolution, and ask them to do the same. Holding monthly meetings to discuss your progress and navigate pitfalls can keep you on the track. With a little effort, you can say goodbye to the failed New Years resolutions of the past and ring in the New Year with the confidence to make resolutions you’ll actually keep.

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Sources:

How to achieve Smart Goals

Writing Smart Goals