Top Resolutions for Your Most Successful New Year

Win at work and in business with the right New Year's resolutions

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New Year's resolutions top many to-do lists during the holiday season. A new year is a beginning, so new goals naturally fuel your thoughts. Resolutions can be intimidating, but you can take action to achieve those goals with some suggestions to guide you.

Do Something You Love

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup organization discovered this critical factor in interviews with 80,000 managers. They narrowed down the questions asked to those that most clearly appeared to define happy, motivating, and productive workplaces.

One of the top questions was, "Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?" People who could affirmatively answer that were more likely to be happy and productive at work. So resolve to be passionate about your work. Do the thing you do best every day.

Do Something Just for You

You can get caught up in doing for others every minute of your workday when you're a manager or a business professional. This problem is compounded when you have family members who occupy your off-work hours.

Resolve to set time aside for yourself every day. Use it to exercise, relax, reflect, meditate, cook a gourmet dinner, write in a journal, walk your pet, or do any other activity that takes your fancy. Just make sure that the activity is different from what you're already doing all day long.

Give Yourself Credit When You Deserve It

The Gallup study also found that people who had received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days were more happy and productive.

You're less likely to have frequent interaction with your boss in this era of empowered employees and broad spans of managerial control, so it's important that you recognize yourself for your excellent efforts. One way to do this is to keep a file of positive notes, thank you letters, and reminders of your successful ventures.

Strive to Learn Something New Every Day

It's easy to get bogged down in the same old, same old routine. Read an article, discuss a new approach with a colleague, or research what other organizations are doing. Use the internet. The opportunities for learning are multiplying every day in this information age.

Read voraciously to continue to learn and grow. Aim to read a couple of business books a month, plus periodicals, online journals, and the "Wall Street Journal" daily. You might not always reach that goal, but it’s there to challenge you to learn and continue to grow.

You can even schedule a book club around a book that you and your department want to read. Sharing the concepts with colleagues and applying them to your department or organization cements the learning.

Make Professional Contacts and Network

Look up colleagues with whom you've lost touch. Make sure that you attend at least one professional meeting each month. You'll benefit from the friendships and relationships you'll build from active participation in networking. It's not enough to sign up—you have to show up and join in as well.

Practice Professional Courage

Step out of your comfort zone. What do you usually do when an issue occurs? Do you mentally make up excuses in your mind as to why you really don’t have to speak up, or why taking a stand on an issue will get you in trouble?

State what you're actually thinking when you find yourself in this situation...if only just once. Coworkers will admire you after the shock wears off. You don't have to be rude or argumentative. Just quietly, concisely, and professionally state your opinion.

You'll probably find that speaking your mind gets easier after you've broken through your self-imposed barriers the first time or two. You'll realize that you survived the experience, and your career might thrive as a result of leaving your comfort zone.

Listen More Than You Talk

That old adage about one mouth and two ears is true. Plan to listen to all that your coworkers are saying this year. They might just want a sounding board, not necessarily advice or problem-solving.

Lending them an ear can empower them to solve their problems. They're more likely to move from "stuck" to "action" when they feel completely heard out.

Track Your To-Do List

Using a planner allows you to empty much of the daily detail from your mind, whether it's Microsoft Office Outlook, Google Calendar, or an app on your smartphone.

The Fitbit or another personal exercise tracker can help you keep track of steps, calories consumed, weight, sleep, and exercise. This is handy for tracking your more personal goals. And dumping the information into a tracker gives your mind room for more critical thinking.

Take up a New Hobby or Activity

Maybe this is the year you finally begin the collection you've always dreamed of. Resolve to take the first steps in participating in something has always intrigued you and piqued your interest. You’ll add a new dimension to your world, and this can positively interact with your business success.

Take Yourself a Little Less Seriously

You can get bogged down in serious deliberation, advising, and problem-solving as you strive for business success, but take time to laugh.

Smile when you hear stories about what your crazy employees are doing after hours. You don't have to be the mom or dad figure all the time. Enjoy them for their little quirks and differences. Appreciate the different strengths, skills, and experiences they bring to work.

Now Keep Those Resolutions

This is the part where you don't stuff your list into a drawer and forget about it. Your resolutions will be more manageable—and by extension, you'll more easily stick to them—if you keep the concepts simple. Nothing says that you have to tackle all these resolutions. Choose the ones that most apply to you, and the ones you're most likely to stick with.

It will demoralize you and deter you from keeping up with the others if you lapse on the most difficult, unrealistic, or unattainable resolution right off the bat. But don't cross it off your list if you falter. Restructure it so it's more doable and dedicate yourself to it tomorrow.