Leveraging the New Year for Workplace Success: Part 1

It’s time to rethink the New Year.

Most of us will spend this month charging ahead toward new professional or personal goals we’ve set and, as the statistics are quick to reveal, we’ll come limping back to the starting line by February. What’s left is unfulfilled visions of greatness and an overriding sense of frustration.

We’ve talked with professionals across the country to get opinions on how you can leverage the new year for professional success. These aren’t so much resolutions as they are ways to win this year with a change of mind and a change of habits.

No. 1: Reflect on 2018

Yesterday is a great inspiration for today, even if our past is a mix of successes and failures. As such, says certified HR pro and career coach Lisa Barrington, you need to begin the year by looking back at the previous 365 days.

“Take time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished this past year, and if you haven’t been doing so all along, write a list,” she said. “It can be tangible accomplishments (like a project or deliverable) or behavioral (like improving upon relationships). Write down everything.”

Once you’ve got your list, set it aside and come back to in a week. Take a moment to think about those things you accomplished that you didn’t set out to do before the year started. These are big wins you should be proud of.

Next, write down a list of things you didn’t accomplish the previous year.

“Decide what is important to bring forward into this year,” she said. “Start your new list.”

This cycle of reflection and redemption of goals unmet will help you start the year with a sense of accomplishment and challenge.

No. 2: As You Set Goals, Try to Hit Singles Instead of Grand Slams

The classic mistake that many of us make when we’re planning out the new year is that we try to swing for the proverbial fences by committing to tackle huge goals.

Rather than trying to launch a mammoth home run of an endeavor, play small ball, says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.

“Approach the process in small doses to progress forward. Don’t push yourself to do too much all at once,” Sweeney said. “Take small, measured steps toward your goals and allow yourself to make edits to your self-proposed timeline as you go.”

That last part is important because, no matter how meticulous we are in our planning, surprises are inevitable. Being able to adjust your goals on the fly will help you adapt to changing circumstances and succeed amid the chaos.

No. 3 Incorporate Daily Walks into Your Work Schedule

If you work at a desk job, you’ve probably heard by now that sitting at a desk all day can, over time, be damaging to your health. Taking a walk around the office at the top of the hour is a great way to curb the side effects of being sedentary.

However, that’s not why Ryne Higgins, a senior manager at home-décor company Peacock Alley, recommended to us that we should be taking walks every day.

Higgins pointed out that walks add elements of mental stimulation that will enhance our workday.

“Many people often overlook the importance of getting up from their desk and moving around,” Higgins said. “The complete change in setting and movement allows the brain to subconsciously problem-solve and increases circulation throughout your body, making your more refreshed and focused when you return to your desk.”

No. 4 Reward Yourself

As you launch into this new year, think about implementing a rewards system for yourself. Most of us look for those rewards in the things our coworkers say, our yearly review with our boss or in the form a bonus or commissions.

However, says workplace author Holly Caplan, it’s perfectly fine for you to implement some self-imposed rewards. The advice isn’t easy to take, though…even for Caplan.

“I never let myself experience a reward for my hard work as I was already on to the next thing. I didn’t allow myself the space to feel positive from a deal I had closed or landing a new account,” she said. “The product of this cycle was the constant dwelling in what I had not yet accomplished, which led to negative thinking.”

To break that cycle, she allowed herself rewards for her accomplishments and encourages her colleagues to do the same.

“Your rewards may come in the form of drinks with friends, a new bag or just sitting in silence,” she said. “Regardless, this year, reward yourself and allow yourself the positivity. Do you know what positivity leads to? More positivity.”