Rethinking resolutions

Since New Year’s resolutions often seemed doomed to fail, what about new month’s resolutions — 12 of them?

From the pages of In Business magazine.

So we’re, what, a few days into the new year? How many resolutions have you broken already? Did you even bother making any?

The idea of starting off the new year resolving to make a big improvement in some aspect of our lives sounds fantastic in principle. A new year symbolizes a new beginning beyond just turning a page on the calendar. But the problem, as happens with a lot of goal setting, is we often think too big without an actionable plan for the daily grind it will take to achieve our desired end result.

Sometimes we also fall prey to the well-intentioned resolution that we temporarily forget has no basis in reality. As such, it’s doomed to fail from the start. My favorite was resolving at the beginning of every school year to do all of my assigned reading every night for each of my classes. I think my personal best was making it through the first week before I abandoned that endeavor. By college I finally accepted who I was and acknowledged it wasn’t going to happen. I even stopped buying books for my classes altogether, with the exception of the courses for my English major. Hey, at least it kept me from skipping class.

As professionals we’re used to setting goals for ourselves, but self-improvement sometimes ends up on the resolution scrap heap because we’re torn in so many directions during the workday that devoting time to a personal work goal just doesn’t fit the schedule.

Instead, what if we committed to smaller, digestible professional goals for the new year? One goal per month, for 12 months. There’s no obligation to continue working on each month’s resolution once the next month arrives (unless you really want to) and no letdown if you can’t see the resolution through past 30 days. A year can be a long time to commit to some projects, but a month? That’s doable.

Here’s my 2018 month-by-month resolution calendar. I may not be successful at all of these, but at least I’ll give each one my full effort for the duration.

January — I resolve to become a more thoughtful user of social media for business purposes.

February — I resolve to expand my leadership skills by being more proactive in asking to take point on a project or set of tasks.

March — I resolve to be a more conscientious communicator by responding to even low-priority emails and phone calls within the same business day.

April — I resolve to grow my professional network, both online at LinkedIn and in person at area networking events.

May — I resolve to help colleagues learn something new.

June — I resolve to be a more gracious co-worker, and less prickly, standoffish, or aloof.

July — I resolve to keep my workspace clean and organized, which applies to my overflowing email inbox more than anything else.

August — I resolve to take risks by tackling uncomfortable stories or topics for our IB audience.

September — I resolve to be a positive instigator and see through an overdue change to something we do here at IB, in print, in person, or online.

October — I resolve to focus on cross training with some of my colleagues so I have a better understanding of everything that goes into their work.

November — I resolve to lead IB on a project for social good in the community.

December — Finally, I resolve to set myself up for a good 2019 by letting go of the things that didn’t work in 2018 and redoubling my efforts on the ones that did.

I’d love to hear about your own professional goals and resolutions for 2018, so email me at jason@ibmadison.com and we may feature some of them online.

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