Setting a New Year’s Resolution for Your Career? Here’s How to Make it Stick

Get a job.

Get a promotion.

Get a raise.

It’s pretty easy to set New Year’s resolutions for your career (heck, we just set three!), but it’s much, much tougher to follow through on them. In fact, of the 40% of us who make annual resolutions, fewer than 1 in 10 actually keep them.

Do the people who achieve their New Year’s resolutions have some kind of superpowers they use to stay disciplined, motivated and focused on achieving their goals? Nope. But they do follow a few simple guidelines, which we share below.

Success Tips for Achieving a New Year’s Resolution for Your Career

No matter what you’re trying to achieve in your career this year, here’s how to transform that “nice idea” into a reality:

Believe in yourself.

If, deep down, you really don’t think you have what it takes to achieve a goal, guess what: you’re right. Unless you believe in your potential, you’ll never achieve it! When thinking about, talking about or working toward your goal, never sell yourself short. Negative thoughts and talk are like handcuffs that only hold you down. Instead of doubting yourself, focus on what’s possible.

Make your resolution simple – and specific.

Laundry lists of vague aspirations may sound impressive, but chances are you’ll quickly abandon them because they’re too overwhelming. Instead of trying to make sweeping changes to your career, set one primary goal with the following characteristics:

  • Make it specific and measurable. Instead of resolving to merely earn a raise, attach a number to it.
  • Make it achievable. If, for example, you’re an administrative assistant who wants to break into HR, you probably won’t be promoted to a director-level role within a single calendar year. Consider what type of promotion is realistic, and then determine what steps you need to take to earn it.
  • Make it time-bound. Looking for a job? Attach time-frames and dates to the activities that will help you land it, such as: updating your resume; applying with a staffing service; applying to jobs online; scheduling informational interviews; attending networking events and job fairs; and more.

Focus on the process.

Break down your resolution into achievable, manageable steps. Want to earn a raise? Then you’ll likely have to take on more responsibility. Outline steps in a process that will allow you to show more initiative and/or consistently exceed your supervisor’s expectations – and detail a plan to carry out those steps. Behaviors, habits and action steps are what achieve goals; flesh out your resolution with them to increase your probability of success.

Track your progress.

Your career resolution will be achieved one small, positive action at a time. Each day, keep a record of those little steps you take, and frequently reward yourself for doing them. At the end of each week and month, take a step back and evaluate your progress. If you’re moving toward your goal and hitting your deadlines, that’s great! But if you find that you’re falling behind, determine what you need to do to get back on track, before a small setback turns into something that threatens your success.

Be kind to yourself.

If achieving your career resolution were easy, you would’ve done it already, right? Be patient and realistic. Expect occasional frustrations. Forgive yourself if you make a misstep, and try not to get discouraged. Remember that, whatever goal you’ve set for yourself, you’re going to have to earn it over time. If you find your resolve starting to dwindle, remind yourself of why you set your resolution – and get support from a friend, co-worker or family member if you need it.

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