New Year’s Resolutions in the Workplace

(We’re taking a quick break from the Planning Your Perfect Year series to talk about New Year’s Resolutions.  We’ll pick up next week with the post on Weekly Reviews.)

When we think about New Year’s Resolutions, we rarely—if ever—think about them in the workplace. But why not? We spend a good majority of our time at work, so why not resolve to make a few changes there?

Is it because there’s already so much to do at work that resolving to do something more leaves us cold? Maybe we feel that we’re so busy, we couldn’t possibly fit something more on the to-do list.

Maybe, we don’t want to fail.

According to some surveys, the majority of people who make resolutions give up after January 12. According to Forbes Magazine, only 8% of people who make resolutions actually succeed in keeping them.

It’s a sorry track record.

But resolutions at work may have a better chance at succeeding—especially if co-workers join you on the journey. Not only do you have accountability, but you’ve got buy-in. And if you make the resolutions something that will benefit everyone—not just yourself—success just might be within reach.

Some workplace resolutions you might consider:

  • Communicate better with…your co-workers (or your team, or your supervisor)
  • Get to know your co-workers better
  • Unite your team
  • Support work/life balance

If these examples feel a little nebulous, consider that New Year’s Resolutions can be—and often are—much different than your work goals. Goals and projects have a targeted conclusion within a set timeframe. They keep employees on track of a singular outcome, and are often the reason why we’re working. Resolutions can have a more qualitative feel to them.

So, how can you achieve a resolution with no clear target?

  1. Make it a Habit. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, suggests that you “stack” habits in order to create new ones, by taking advantage of habits that are already ingrained. For example, if you want to start a workout routine in the new year, he suggests that every time you take off your work shoes, you immediately change into workout clothes.
  2. Use the Buddy System. Marc Goulston, writing at PsycheCentral says that it’s easier to succeed in goals when a friend or co-worker is there to offer support. Share your ideas with co-workers and supervisors and keep joint resolutions throughout the year. Enable them to join you in your goals to create office-wide resolutions.
  3. Write it Down What You Hope To Achieve. Writing down your goals establishes intent and helps you overcome resistance. At work, consider disseminating the goals via email to a specific group or an entire department.
  4. Celebrate Successes. Successes generate excitement and build momentum. Celebrate even the small wins with recognition at meetings, donuts in the breakroom, or even a bulletin board that can be added to throughout the year.

Resolutions are all about change, but they don’t have to be overwhelming. The change doesn’t need to be immediate or drastic. Progress can happen gradually. The key is to focus on making the current situation better.

Kelly Harmon is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. By day, she is the Webmaster of the National Agricultural Library, where she spends her time analyzing web statistics, supporting the various NAL web sites, and writing the occasional article for Tellus Magazine, produced by the Agricultural Research Service, USDA. By night, she is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. She’s a bit of a word-nerd, and relies on her planner to keep life sane. You can read her posts here.

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