Even if 2020 is already here, you’re still on time to think of your New Year’s resolutions. Whether last year has been good or bad, there’s always something we can improve in the upcoming year. Most people choose things like “lose weight”, “eat less junk food” or “save money” for their New Year’s resolutions. But what few people consider, despite usually having huge rooms for improvement, it’s resolutions for the workplace.
Why set New Year’s Resolutions?
The custom of setting New Year’s resolutions comes from way back. New Year as we know it, on January 1rst, is actually an heirloom from Ancient Rome. The day was dedicated to Janus, from which the word “January” comes from. In the Roman pantheon, Janus was the god of doors, new beginnings, and transitions–a fitting deity for New Year’s celebration. Janus’ representations usually showed him with two faces: one looking forward and the other backward.
This idea is extremely interesting. It shows that, just like Janus, we need to look back in order to look forward. Transitions imply that you’re moving from a starting point. New Year resolutions are great because they demand some form of self-analysis. Whether you’re conscious about it or not, it asks you to identify something you feel you can improve. This is important because things don’t always go the way we would like them to. But learning from them and improving is the way to move forward. And recognizing your shortcomings is the first step for growing.
But, in order to move forward, you can’t get stuck on looking back. New Year’s resolutions are great because they mean not only reflecting and doing an auto exam on the things that we didn’t like, or that could’ve been better, but setting yourself goals to improve yourself. They imply actively thinking about how to improve those things that we’re not satisfied with. Many times people feel like New Year’s resolutions are just “those things you write down and never really succeed at doing”. But even if that is the case, and most of the time we’re not able to do even 1/10 of our list, starting the year doing one means starting the year with a growth mentality.
New Year’s Resolutions for the Workplace
Many people focus their New Year’s resolutions on their personal goals. And that is perfectly fine. But there are more aspects of life where it’s important to have a growth mentality. Work and professional development is one of those, and can benefit greatly from setting yearly goals.
It’s not unlikely for businesses to do a Year-End report. It’s a great, straightforward way to see how much your company has grown in the last year. But reports are only evaluating the year performance, not thinking about the future. Sure, Year-End reports are a great way to close a year of hard work. But to start a new one, it’s important to sit down and think about what you would like to achieve in the upcoming months. Setting goals and resolutions will help you be more focused and work on taking concrete steps to achieve them.
Setting concrete goals
It may be tempting to set general and over-optimistic goals. Things like “I want to increase my sales”, have probably gone through all our heads. After all, who wouldn’t want to? But they are not very realistic. Goals like this one depend on too many factors and are too general. When setting your New Year’s resolutions for the workplace, think smaller things that can help you get to that bigger goal. The more concrete a goal is, the easier it will be to notice if you’re doing any progress.
For example, you can focus your New Year’s resolution in your professional development. You can set goals like learning a new skill, or how to use new software. If you work for an international company, you might want to improve a certain language. It can be something as easy as to get feedback from 3 people you admire on your field, assisting to a convention, and so on.
You can also focus your New Year’s resolutions on your workplace and your team. You don’t have to be the boss to set goals at your job. Setting yourself a goal like “improve communication with my team”, and thinking about concrete steps to work on it, can be done by yourself and still go a long way.
Or, you can also set more personal New Year’s resolutions that are also connected to the workplace. For example, be more punctual, adhere to due dates, or have your desk more organized, if you feel that those behaviors are affecting your professional performance.
The most important thing about all these is to work on them. After you have set your New Year’s resolutions, you should sit down and think about how exactly you’re planning to achieve them and what specific steps you will take to succeed.
How to set your New Year’s Resolutions
So the big question is, how to make good New Year’s resolutions? Whether it is for your personal growth or for the workplace, setting your yearly goals can be difficult.
In the case setting New Year’s resolutions for the workplace, it’s particularly tricky because business is usually a group effort. And to set realistic, achievable goals, the resolutions that you make must depend on yourself alone. For example, many people say that one of their New Year’s resolutions is “finding love” or “being happier”. These resolutions are pretty much set to fail from the very start, since they depend on someone or something else. And even if they indeed manage to achieve their goals, it will be due to external factors, and not their own work.
Resolutions, both in the personal aspect as well as in the workplace, must be something for which you can work consistently. If you set a New Year’s resolution where you can’t really do anything about it, it’s not a resolution, it’s wishful thinking! And even if you achieve your goal, it won’t be thanks to you or your work. In other words, you won’t be improving yourself, just being lucky.
In short, New Year’s Resolutions should depend on you, be achievable through consistent work, and even better, be trackable. This will allow you to see how much you have improved from the beginning at any given time of the year. This can be inspiring and help keep you motivated throughout the year. But it’s also important because, in case you don’t manage to reach your goal, you will not feel all your efforts have been in vain. You can still see how much you have improved. And, even more, you can use it to set better and more accurate goals for the next year.
Keeping things real
Don’t get too excited. Starting the year with a growth mentality is good, but you don’t want to be overoptimistic. Biting more than you can chew is a sure way to end up failing your New Year’s resolutions. You might start working on them eagerly and filled with determination. But if the task is too big and you feel like you’re not moving forward, it’s easy to get disheartened.
Your Year-End report is actually a good place to start. You can do an end-of-the-year report to evaluate your own performance. This way, you’ll be able to see the complete picture and set resolutions that will work for you. You can use it to see what you didn’t manage to do, so you can improve it in the upcoming months. Or you can use it to see your year’s achievements and think about to what new levels you can make them grow.
Year-End reports are also a good way to set realistic goals. For example, if you want to read more books in the coming year, checking out your last year’s performance could help you define an achievable goal. If you read only 5 books in the passing year, it would be pretty unrealistic to aspire to read over 20. Don’t set your bar that much higher, especially if the conditions around it won’t change. If you read only 5 books because you were busy, you’ll probably be busy this year too. 7 books is a good start, and even if you feel it’s too easy, it’ll help you stay motivated throughout the year.
KPIs and measurable goals
Another good way to face the challenge of setting New Year’s resolutions is to think of them as KPIs. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a way of measuring a company’s effectiveness to meet their goals. And just like KPIs, your New Year’s resolutions should be SMART.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. And these are some great guidelines to follow when setting your yearly goals. If you need to track down your KPIs, or maybe share them with your team, check out this KPI Scorecard PowerPoint template.
In short, keep in mind realistic, measurable, and achievable through consistent work New Year’s resolutions. Even if the year has already started, it is never too late to set some goals and start working on them. Your goals are your own, and you can change them and tune them if you see fit. The most important thing is to encourage growth and improvement so at the end of the year you can be proud of yourself.