4 Tips to Make All Your Work Resolutions Come True in the New Year
It’s time to hit the ground running. Okay, it’s not exactly the very beginning of the New Year—but we all need a little time to get back in the swing of things after the holidays, right? Even if you haven’t made a dent in your other resolutions (exercise is hard–trust me, I get it), it’s not too late to adjust your work habits and become more efficient, organized, and fulfilled.
Instead of supplying you with work resolutions you’ve heard a million times before, here are four non-stereotypical, realistic strategies you can incorporate in your professional life right away. Of course, that’s not to say that the conventional workplace advice gems are wrong. Cleaning out your work email, taking breaks from staring at your computer screen, eating breakfast daily are all important! Especially that last one. George Michael Bluth really wasn’t wrong when he thought that breakfast was the most important thing.
1) Make S.M.A.R.T. goals
Did you know that only 8% of people fulfill their New Year’s resolutions? You don’t have to be part of the all-too-common 92% statistic any longer if you set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Maybe this concept sounds familiar—it definitely sounds like a poster hanging jauntily in your third-grade classroom. Here’s what S.M.A.R.T stands for and how you can apply this idea to setting (and achieving!) goals at work:
- S: Specific. Making a clear, specifically laid out goal makes it easier for you to understand exactly how to accomplish it. Instead of vaguely resolving to be more organized, you can set a specific goal to set aside 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to organize files, filter out your emails, and make a to-do list for the coming week.
- M: Measurable. Coming up with concrete criteria by which to measure your progress is vital to success. Say you want to expand your client list in the new year. That’s a great goal—but how will you know when you’ve succeeded? You can set a measurable goal of signing 5 new clients every 3 months.
- A: Attainable. Think about goals that are relevant and achievable for where you currently are. If you’re currently in your first year at a specific job, aspiring to become CFO isn’t really the best goal to make.
- R: Realistic. It’s simple for anyone to come up with an astounding list of resolutions. Who doesn’t want to make more money, lose 20 pounds, and become really, really famous? However, those resolutions can be much harder to achieve. That doesn’t mean you can’t dream big, of course. Just think about goals that you are both willing and able to work on.
- T: Timely. All goals should be tied to a realistic time frame. If you want to start a company blog, make a specific timeline. Create a calendar with clear dates for when you want to launch the blog, how often posts will be published, and so on.
2) Take note of your coworkers’ work habits
It’s oh-so-easy to get stuck in old work habits. If you’ve always done a task a certain way—whether it’s how you manage your emails, how you schedule out your day, or how you run your meetings—it’s time to take a step back and rethink your tactics. Take the time to ask your coworkers how they organize their time, their emails, their files, and more. You might get inspired and learn new tricks and tools that can better streamline your work day.
3) Think about your word choice in emails
Tami Reiss, CEO of software development agency Cyrus Innovation, created a new Chrome extension app called Just Not Sorry. The plug-in underlines words and phrases that undermine your message and make you seem like a less confident person. According to many, words and phrases like “just,” “sorry,” “actually,” “I think,” “does that make sense?” and “I’m not an expert” are so-called “shrinkers” that diminish your authority.
These phrases are even more common in women. The conversation about how and why women over-apologize is just getting started, and Reiss’ addition is a great concrete step in the right direction. I recommend checking out a spectacularly true (and delightfully absurd) Inside Amy Schumer sketch on the phenomenon. No matter what your gender is, Just Not Sorry highlights bad habits that you may not even notice anymore. It’s not meant to eliminate your voice, but instead promote mindfulness in the language you use at work.
Friendly warning: After learning about this plug-in, you’re going to become hyper-conscious of your email word choice. It’s just so easy to use the word “just.” See!
4) Spend time thinking about professional growth
Take the time to reflect on how you want to grow professionally. Work habits don’t just include how you organize your time or write your emails. It’s so easy to fall into ruts and feel like an automaton checking things off of your task list. Is there something you’ve always been meaning to learn? Do you have a project percolating in your brain that you want to pursue? Instead of going through cycle after cycle of completing work tasks, it’s time to think about larger projects and goals you have for yourself.
Set aside time to make a list. Come up with a plan (and use those S.M.A.R.T. goals!). If you have managers or coworkers who could help you pursue these ideas, meet with them and discuss how you can grow.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, is a self-help guru/goddess who emphasizes fulfillment. Check out her 12 tips to creating a happier workplace here—many of them address the importance of feeling rewarded, appreciated, and engaged at work.
It’s time to break your rusty work habits, get out of worn ruts, and take the leap to becoming more organized, engaged, and fulfilled at work. We’d love to hear your work resolutions, if you have any other tips, and if you also think breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Tweet us @Perfect_Search.
Does one of your resolutions happen to be curing writers’ block? Check out my tips on writing efficiently here!
Kayla Hammersmith is a huge fan of Nancy Drew computer games and swears that she can do a very specific impression of Pal, the dog from Arthur. You might often find her snacking on goat cheese as she dreams of one day becoming a cellist savant.