Make This Year Your Most Successful Yet!
Welcome to the new year. The Champagne has been popped and poured, the confetti swept up, and your party clothes hung back in your closet. The first month of the year is often the most productive time of the year. There are a few reasons for that, namely, people feel January is a fresh start. They make goals and resolutions to accomplish in a renewed 12-month cycle. There is a fresh sense of purpose and hope to their lives.
Come early spring, however, many people give up on their resolutions due to old habits and the effort it takes to make a life change stick. Researchers at the University of Scranton conducted a rigorous study on how long people keep New Year’s resolutions. The study found that “77 percent of the resolvers [who were studied] made it through a full week, [and] 55 percent stuck with their goals for a month. By June … only 40 percent of those who had made a New Year’s resolution were still sticking with the goal (Vox).”
In the workforce, it is important to make resolutions and stick to them. The only way to improve work life is to make the necessary changes and see them through; onward and upward is the only way.
“New Year’s resolutions tend to be reactions to things we want to change in our lives,” says Dr. Karie Willyerd, vice president of learning and social adoption at SuccessFactors. “I have a good friend who only makes resolutions she knows she will keep, so they tend to be positive and something she really wants to do. The same could be said of career-related resolutions: some can be in reaction to things you want to change, but you should also consider some aspirational, desirable resolutions.”
1. Reduce Daily Stress
Stress is a factor in everybody’s life. But using it to get your job done can be powerful. Some stressors aren’t necessarily bad – they can be motivators to encourage productivity.
“You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not,” said Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. “Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, [for] behavioral and cognitive performance.”
Make sure you know your stress triggers and your favorite ways to relax, so you can be in control of your stress and not the other way around.
2. Learn Something New
The world of business is always growing and so is the chance for education. Learning something new can add a new dimension and skill to your work and personal life. Taking a local course at a community center, an e-course, or a class at a university are all ways to boost your business knowledge.
3. Communicate Effectively
If you are not a natural born writer or social butterfly, written and verbal communication can be a challenge – but they can be improved. Communicating effectively takes time and effort. Karen Friedman is a communication coach with 36 years of experience as a professional communicator and author of Shut Up and Say Something: Business Communication Strategies to Overcome Challenges and Influence Listeners.
Friedman says her No. 1 communication rule is this: “It is absolutely critical to be as direct, to the point and concise as possible.”
It is easy to be vague in a work-related email or to slouch and display negative body language when conversing in person. The next time you are sending an email or speaking with a colleague, pay attention to exactly what you want to communicate. Also, be sure to thank people when they help you out — gratitude can go a long way.
4. Understand Company Goals
Understanding how your job contributes to your company’s goals is important. You are an integral part of the workforce that keeps your business thriving – make sure you understand how important you are. Knowing how your role fits into the big picture will not only help you understand your impact but will give you a sense of success and motivation. If your goal is to advance, understand exactly how to achieve that – and go for it.
5. Work-Life Balance
Taking time for yourself is just as important as working really hard. An exhausted, overworked employee is not a productive employee. If your goal is to take more time for yourself this year to balance your work and life, try not to answer work-related emails on the weekends. Or, set aside certain hours of the day that are just for you and do not revolve around work. During those hours, focus on the things you enjoy, such as spending time with your family.
6. Let Criticism Enrich, Not Hurt
It’s hard not to take criticism personally. But at work, it may be best to not take anything personally. Instead, when facing criticism, try to use it as an opportunity to grow. The next time you are facing a situation where criticism is involved, ask yourself if there is anything you can learn from. To evolve in the business world, it is important to be improving constantly. Plus, an employee who is not argumentative and easy to work with is a pleasure to work with.
7. Organize Yourself
Your desk at work is similar to your room. It is your space. If it is messy, cluttered and disorganized, it may be a subconsciously stressful environment in which to work. As with your desk, if your schedule is not organized, your work-life will be chaotic. If you have trouble managing time, make lists. Write down tasks you need to complete each day of the week. Keeping your priorities clear will help keep you on track during the workweek.
Sherrie Bourg Carter, a contributing writer to Psychology Today, says, “mental clutter can be just as stressful, if not more stressful, than physical clutter. Although there is an entire article (at least) of suggestions I could offer for mental de-cluttering, one of the most basic and useful tips … is to focus on one project at a time without distractions such as cellphones, emails and other electronic gadgets.”
8. Improve Work Relationships
You don’t have to be BFFs with your co-workers, but it is important to cultivate professional relationships that are mutually beneficial, whether with your team members or your boss (and it’s just more fun to work with people whom you enjoy being around).
Andy Teach, business veteran and author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, has this to say:
We all want to have a department of supporters who will have our backs and we have theirs. It’s not always possible to get along with everyone in your department. Sometimes there’s friction between co-workers and it may be our fault, it may be theirs. [It] comes down to communication.
9. Be Mindful
Being present in every moment is an important part of productivity – constantly watching the clock is not. If your goal for this year is to be more actively present at work, start each morning by noting five things you are grateful for. Noticing the small aspects of life can contribute to a more well-rounded and fruitful wellbeing.
10. Improve Your Attitude
Having a good outlook on both your work and life is more important than you may think. “The resolutions I hear all the time, like make more money, get a promotion, do work I love, be a better networker, are more likely to happen if you have a more positive attitude. People want to do business with people who are proactive, positive and enthusiastic, so a good attitude will likely attract more people and opportunities your way,” said Lindsey Pollack, author of Getting from College to Career, in a Forbes article.
So the next time you’re feeling blue about something work related (or otherwise) find a way to cheer yourself up and address the issue head on. Time may be one of the greatest gifts we are given, so don’t waste it with a poor disposition. This year make your New Year’s resolutions work for you, and remember, you are in control of your destiny.
Norcross, J.C., Ratzin, A.C., & Payne, D. (1989). Ringing in the new year: The change processes and reported outcomes of resolutions. Addictive Behaviors, 14(2), 205-212.