Broken your New Year’s work resolution? Get back on track with these tips

A woman sitting at her desk at home working
Has your enthusiasm waned for the New Year’s work resolution you set last month? The start of a new year is a great time to set goals to advance your career, learn a new skill or improve your performance. But by February, more people have broken their resolution than made genuine progress. 
Resolutions fail for various reasons. Often, we want instant gratification, but new year’s goals are rarely achieved quickly. Alternatively, we may not have carefully considered our resolution and thereby failed to create a SMART goal that provides the details and timeframes crucial to progress and success.

How to get your new year’s resolution back on track

If you’ve found yourself losing steam or resorting to bad habits, here are our tips to help you start fresh and get your new year's goals back on track.

Plan for success

Failing to start small is the most common reason people don’t follow through with New Year’s resolutions. Most resolutions involve significant change, which can seem overwhelming unless you create a plan to break your one aspirational goal down into small and specific weekly tasks. 
By deconstructing your resolution into manageable and achievable weekly activities, you can take one step at a time. Crucially, by defining exactly what you must achieve each week, you’ll experience weekly wins, boosting your motivation and keeping you on track. Each week you’ll move one noticeable step closer to achieving your specific end goal. 

Block out enough time – and commit to it

Time management doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But if you don’t block out enough time to realistically achieve your weekly goal, you’ll fail at your resolution before you even start. 
If you have been struggling to allocate enough time each week to your weekly goal, start small and block out five minutes a day. Once this becomes habit, you can increase the amount of time you dedicate to your career resolution each week.
Changing a behaviour isn’t easy, so if necessary, set an alarm, download a planning app or make a recurring appointment in your calendar to ensure you stop and spend time working on your goal. Such simple tricks can turn the tide and help you stick to your New Year’s resolution.
Don’t let the odd setback get you down though. No matter how well you time block, there will be weeks when your workload spikes and other priorities take precedence.  Rather than seeing this as a failure and letting it derail you, view each Monday as a new opportunity to start your week fresh and work towards your goal once more.

Focus on one resolution at a time

You may have a long list of resolutions you’d like to achieve, but realistically there is only so much time in the day. Knowing how to make your new year’s resolutions stick means not overestimating what you can achieve in a year. If you do, you’ll spread yourself too thin and won’t have enough time to achieve any resolution properly. 
If this describes you, one option is to review your resolutions and prioritise based on what will have the biggest impact or is the most time-sensitive. Then, focus your time and effort on developing a solid plan to achieve your most pressing resolution first.       

Work with a trusted colleague

Finding the motivation to achieve your new year’s resolution can be a lot easier when someone else in your life is helping to keep you accountable. It’s a good idea, therefore, to talk to a trusted colleague, friend or family member about your resolution and weekly plan. After all, you’re more likely to put in the work each week when you know that someone will be asking you regularly about your progress!
Importantly, if your motivation starts to slip, this person can offer encouragement to get you back on track. Then, if they are also working towards their own goal, you can reciprocate by giving them a boost whenever they need it. In this way, you’ll help keep each other accountable. 
Achieving your resolution may also require the assistance of others. For example, if your resolution is to learn a new skill to help you perform an aspect of your job better, talk to your boss about the rationale behind your resolution and ask for a suitable stretch opportunity. If this isn’t possible, could you take time off to attend a formal course?

Monitor your progress

It’s important to focus each week on what you have accomplished rather than what you are yet to achieve. The former serves to keep your mindset positive, while the latter only leads to despondency and falling motivation. 
So, track your progress and when you achieve each week’s goal, congratulate yourself on taking another step towards achieving your career new year’s resolution. 

Understand that change isn’t easy

Any change takes a certain amount of time and a huge commitment. You may even be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. But if you remind yourself of the reason you set this goal for your career in the first place, you’ll be more likely to succeed. 
Similarly, if you feel despondent because you thought you’d have made more progress by now, stop and reassess. Realistically examine the time and energy you’ve dedicated so far to your goal – has it been enough to make genuine progress? If it has, you may need to adjust your action plan. If it hasn’t, block out extra time each week to work on your resolution. 

Use February to reset

There’s no doubt about it, following through on a career new year’s resolution is hard. But rather than giving up, use these tips to reset. 
Don’t forget, if you haven’t set your resolution yet, these tips will help. 

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.

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