New Year’s resolutions top many to-do lists each holiday season. The new year is a beginning so new goals and resolutions, new plans, new dreams and new directions fuel your thoughts. Here are ten New Year’s resolutions for people who work for businesses and organizations.
Write out your New Year’s resolutions and you will restore, revitalize and renew your spirit to take advantage of all the possibilities of the new year. May your New Year’s resolutions help you make this year your best year ever.
Be good to yourself this year. Promise that you will:
Do something you love to do, and that you do best, every single day. In their landmark book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (compare prices), Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup organization discovered this critical factor in interviews with 80,000 managers. For their interviews, they narrowed down the questions asked to the twelve that most clearly appeared to define happy, motivating, productive workplaces. These were the first three:
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
People who could answer these questions affirmatively were more likely to be happy and productive. Get passionate about your work. Do something you do best every day.
Do something just for you every single day. As a manager or business professional, you can get caught up in doing for others during every minute of your work day. If you have family members who occupy the off-work hours, this problem is compounded. Resolve to set time aside for yourself every day to exercise, relax, reflect, cook a gourmet dinner, eat ice cream, write in a journal, garden, walk your pet or do any other activity that takes your fancy. Just make sure the activity is different than what you already do all day long. You will feel as if you have a life.
Give yourself credit and a pat on the back when you deserve it. In the Gallup study cited earlier, this question defined the most productive workplaces. People who had received praise or recognition for their work in the past seven days were more happy and productive.
In this era of empowered employees and broad spans of managerial control, you are less likely to have frequent interaction with your boss. Thus, it is important that you recognize yourself for excellent efforts. One way to do this is to keep a file of positive notes, thank you letters and reminders of successful ventures. I call mine, “Neat Things.” Stop to assess success after each project you complete.
Strive to learn something new every single day. It is easy to get bogged down in the same old, same old. Read an article; discuss a new approach with a colleague; research what other organizations are doing on the Web. The opportunities for learning are multiplying every day in this information age.
Make professional contacts and network. Look up colleagues with whom you have lost touch. Make sure you attend at least one professional meeting each month. You will benefit from the friendships and relationships you develop from active participation. It is not enough to “join.” You need to participate to reap the rewards from professional collaboration. Read Dig the Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need by Harvey McKay, the king of networking. When you dig past the surface glitz, there are terrific ideas in this book.
My first five recommendations for positive, life-enhancing New Year’s resolutions will make your year. This second five recommended New Year’s resolutions will seal your success.
Practice professional courage by stepping out of your comfort zone. You know when you are in your comfort zone. An issue occurs. You hear yourself making up excuses in your mind about “why” you don’t need to speak, or “why” taking a stand on an issue will get you “in trouble.” Just once, when you find yourself in this situation, state what you are really thinking. After the shock wears off, your coworkers will admire you. It is so important that organization members provide honest feedback and participate in needed conflict to improve your products or services for customers.
Once you have begun breaking through your own self-imposed barriers, you will find that stating your mind gets easier and easier. Why? Because you will find you survived the experience. In fact, your career may thrive as a result of you leaving your comfortable home. Most people who practice professional courage, expected the worst, but found they were rewarded for their new stance. If you find yourself getting beaten up instead, perhaps it’s time to look for different employment. After all, wouldn’t you really rather work where you can safely speak your mind?
Listen more than you talk. The old adage about one mouth and two ears is generally true. As a manager, you spend much of your time in problem-solving activities and efforts. Plan this year, to listen to all that your coworkers are saying; they may want a sounding board, not advice or problem solving. You may find you don’t have to take the monkeys on your back. Your listening may empower them to solve their own problems. When they feel completely heard out and listened to, they are more likely to move from “stuck” to action. In Stephen Covey’s words, seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Develop a method to track your life goals, your daily engagements, and your to do list. Using a planner, whether in Microsoft Office Outlook on your laptop or on your smartphone, allows you to empty much of the daily detail from your mind. This gives your mind room for more important thinking.
I purchased a PDA/cellphone a few years ago and reveled in the convenience of daily task items rolling electronically to the next day. My next purchase will be a smartphone to synch with Outlook and read email.
Whether you choose a paper method or an electronic method, tracking your daily activities against your most important goals is critical. You do want to ensure you accomplish your most important priorities. Right?
Read voraciously to continue to learn and grow. I aim to read a couple of business books a month plus periodicals, online journals and the Wall Street Journal. I don’t always reach that goal, but it’s always there for me. Try to read widely and broadly. Get out of the business books once in awhile to see how other subjects enhance your point of view.
Take up a new hobby or activity this year. Maybe this is the year you begin your collection. My husband recently renewed his interest in amateur radio. (Unfortunately, he tells me we don’t have enough antennas – BIG antennas!) I have started to write a cooking website. If something has always intrigued you and piqued your interest, resolve to take the first steps in participating this year. You’ll add a new dimension to your world.
Take yourself a little less seriously. As we strive for business success, we can get bogged down in serious deliberation, advising and problem solving. Take time to laugh. Take time to smell cookies and bread baking. Smile when you hear stories about what all of your crazy employees are doing; you don’t need to be the “mom” or “dad” all the time. Enjoy them for all their little quirks and differences. (Okay, I lied. For those of you who counted, there are actually eleven resolutions here, and I can’t bear to give up any of the earlier ones! Is this an example of “get a life?”)
With warm regards, and great best wishes for your success, I wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous, outstanding new year as you adopt these New Year’s resolutions and more of your own.