Are you ready to get started on your New Year’s resolution? Before you get in too deep — and set yourself up to fail (because, isn’t that kind of part of setting resolutions — waiting to see how long it takes to break them?) – think about a new approach to goal setting: one that may change your approach to resolutions and goal setting forever. Oliver Burkeman wrote an article for Newsweek where he suggests eschewing the grand gestures and promises to turn over a brand new leaf. Luckily, Burkeman doesn’t leave readers without any hope for change at all. Instead, he suggests, “If you must make resolutions, it’s preferable to make tiny individual ones, repeatedly throughout the year, rather than multiple, ambitious ones at the start of it.” He references research from psychologists Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, collected from hundreds of American employees that concludes, “regular minor accomplishments- “small wins”-contribute much more to happiness than do occasional, bigger ones.”
Luckily, choosing small wins – or baby step resolutions – can work for just about any goal, including career goals. You want to earn a raise? What baby steps can you take towards making the case for more money?
- Begin to look for opportunities to volunteer for special projects so you can get noticed.
- Start seeking continuing education opportunities to fill in possible skills gaps. Your small goal can be to identify classes and your next step will be to actually take the course.
- Plan to talk to one person per week who doesn’t already know you at work. Every person you meet is a potential ally for your career plans. Make a point to continue to grow and expand the number of people who know, like and trust you.
- Make a point to identify one “win” every week: what are you doing well; what are you proud of this week? (Lucky for you, accomplishing any of your other small steps can count for this step, so you can’t lose!)
Maybe your big goal is to be happier at work. What small steps can you take to help that become a reality?
- Are you always feeling stressed and busy? Consider coming in early (before the boss and your colleagues) to get some work done before the day gets started. Your small-step goal can be to come in five or ten minutes early every day. That’s almost an hour of extra time to get things done in a week!
- Make an effort to find a new friend at work. Studies show that people enjoy their jobs more when they have some allies at work. If you don’t have any friends, identify one or two likely candidates and invite them to lunch or coffee.
- Adjust your own attitude. Convince yourself that being happier at work will be useful for you and stop dwelling on anything that’s stressing you out. Your small step goal can be to make a point to smile more every day.
What if what you really want is a new job? Instead of a potentially overwhelming resolution such as, “Get a new job,” consider a series of smaller resolutions:
- Spend 10 minutes a day building a new resume. Start out by listing your skills and accomplishments. By the end of the week, you’ll be well on your way to a new resume!
- Take 15 minutes a week researching people you know who can give you information you can use to make a change.
- Write down one thing every day that can help you get a new job. (For example, a skill you enjoy discussing or a special accomplishment that you’re proud to share.)
When you take small steps every day instead of making an effort to accomplish something big in one swoop, it will be more difficult to give up on your goal. Let’s face it, you know you can do one small thing every day or every week. Now, convince yourself that those baby steps can make a big difference and get started!
photo by vpickering