With 2020 just days away, it’s time to assess the past year and plan for the next. It’s at this time of year that we try to envision where we might be 12 months from now, and what we might accomplish (insert New Year resolutions here). Unfortunately, the vast majority of us will not meet those goals. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but hear us out.
According to a commonly-cited study from US News and World Report, 80 percent of resolutions are abandoned by mid-February. Other research suggests that while about half of Americans make New Year resolutions, 25 percent of them give up within the first week of January.
So, why bother? A 2002 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that after six months, 46 percent of those who made a resolution were successful compared to just 4 percent of those who didn’t set a concrete goal. That means you're 10x more likely to keep your resolutions if you simply make them!
Part of the problem with keeping many common New Year resolutions comes from setting goals that are far too ambitious to be realistic. Sure, we all want to (and should) dream big. But if we set our sights too high, we are far more likely to become frustrated and surrender. While this rings true with weight-loss and financial goals, it also impacts professional aspirations.
“It's not so much the resolution as it is how attainable or realistic the goal is,” University of Scranton researcher John C. Norcross said in a 2008 interview. “You know, someone says I'm going to lose 50 pounds and keep it off this year versus I think I'll struggle to keep 10 off — that's a little more realistic.”
Not only must New Year resolutions be attainable, but they also must be within your control. For example, earning a promotion at work is only within your power to a certain extent. Instead, focus on small professional goals that can help you earn the promotion down the road— whether that's this year or the next. Then, even if the promotion doesn’t happen, the effort isn’t wasted, and the self-improvement still carries plenty of benefits.
Want to start the new year off right with resolutions that are realistic, attainable, and within your control? Try out your own version of these seven professional New Year Resolutions for 2020 and beyond.
1. Improve Organization
Boosting organization efforts when entering a new year can provide a variety of benefits. Whether it’s clearing out old emails and files, organizing your desktop or realigning your schedule, increased organization can improve efficiency and reduce stress. Like other resolutions, however, organization goals must be realistic.
“Don’t overwhelm yourself into a whole new way of doing everything,” explained University of North Carolina’s director of career management Shawnice Meador. "Rather, focus your efforts on one or two key areas where you want to be more organized and maintain them throughout the entire year.”
2. Boost Networking
A wider network of industry contacts is one of the most valuable professional tools to hold in your arsenal. You never know when one of those contacts will open the door to new opportunity or be a valuable resource when confronted with a professional dilemma. Of course, a network doesn’t just build itself; it takes time and effort to grow and mature.
Therefore, it’s not enough to resolve that you will network more effectively. Instead, create a plan with steps you’ll take to expand your professional network. Perhaps that includes being more active on LinkedIn or other professional social networks.
Other networking efforts might include joining professional organizations and attending organizational mixers. Let’s not forget networking the old-fashioned way, either. Sending handwritten thank-you notes to colleagues is a great way to cement your professional relationship and make a lasting impact.
3. Leave Your Comfort Zone
Want to make headway in your professional life? Make yourself uncomfortable on a regular basis. It’s easy for us to become lackadaisical in the workplace, completing only the necessary requirements of our job or engaging with only pivotal team members. But where’s the growth in that strategy?
Next year, try challenging yourself to leave your comfort zone and expose yourself to new people, perspectives, tasks, and ideas. Avoidance is a bad habit that can be hard to break, but you never know when that initially uncomfortable scenario will turn into an incredible professional opportunity.
4. Become A Better Presenter
We get it, most people would agree that presentations suck— both creating and presenting them. It's a mundane task that is typically procrastinated until the last minute. That said, learning to love the process and becoming a better presenter can actually help boost your career. How? Presenting your work to your boss or department, or closing a sales deal, can pave the way for a more successful year. All of which requires a good presentation deck, but we can help.
In 2020, try working on your presentation management. Become more organized with your content, and create a more professional-looking deck, with the help of Beautiful.ai. Our Smart Slides automatically adjust, allowing you to focus on what's important—your information and statistics.
5. Learn New Skills
Whether you’re introducing yourself to new technology, taking a professional development course or learning a new language, you can’t go wrong when it comes to learning new skills.
By acquiring extra knowledge in 2020, you will only make yourself a stronger professional candidate and an expert in your field. Not only will learning a new skill enhance your professional prowess, but it’s one New Year resolution that is fairly straightforward to accomplish. Hold yourself accountable here!
6. Talk to Your Boss
Those awkward conversations with the boss are often most easily avoided, but where will that get you in the long run? Besides, how can you even be sure you’re making the right goals for 2020 unless you take the plunge and ask for feedback?
Whether you’re looking for a raise in 2020 or hoping for that much sought-after promotion, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to get there by having that difficult conversation. It might not be everything you’d hope to hear, but you’ll feel so much better once you get it over with and know where you stand. Regardless of the outcome, you'll be better for it.
7. Enhance Your Brand
What do colleagues think of when they hear your name? Personal branding influences others’ impression of you based on what you say and do. No matter what results you garner your organization, it won’t matter much if people think poorly of you.
Personal branding can be controlled in a variety of ways. Obviously, your resume and social media profiles impact others’ perception of you, but your brand doesn’t end there. Be sure colleagues are aware of your achievements.
It’s not a sign of conceit to commend yourself when the praise is warranted. After all, if you aren’t talking about it, you can’t rely on anyone else to do so.
If you find you don’t have much to brag on yourself, your New Year resolution for 2020 can be to change that. Go above and beyond. Help a colleague. Become a mentor. Push yourself to be better. All of these efforts will boost your personal brand.
What are your professional New Year resolution ideas? You don't have to spend a lot of time determining them, just be sure they are applicable to real life, attainable and within your control, and you'll be starting 2020 off on the right foot. Happy New Year!