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23 Jan. 2017 | Comments (2)

Professional New Year’s resolutions can be a fantastic way to take stock of our work lives and see what changes we’d like to make.  But, often, we trip ourselves up by putting too much weight on January 1st.  We create an image in our heads of ‘Old Work Me’ and then we make a list of resolutions that will create ‘New Work Me’ ¾ and we plan to dive into it with gusto when the New Year arrives! We resolve to network better, be more organized, improve our communication skills and create a higher profile all in one day.  But, without realizing it, we’ve heaped way too much on the back of January 1st.  We’ve made it into The Day We Will Miraculously Attain All of Our Professional Goals At Once!

But what we need is a plan for actualizing smaller goals that move us towards attaining our larger goals. But most of us don’t have a plan, a mistake we make in all other aspects of our lives, too ¾ which is why the gym is packed on January 1st but empty again by January 15th. People who have never worked out before resolve to work out every day, but they quickly find they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. If their plan had been more manageable — like working out twice a week — success might have been more readily available.

The same can be said at work. Someone who has never had a speaking engagement before might set a goal of ‘Acquiring 3 high profile speaking engagements in the next quarter,’ without a plan designed to actualize the smaller steps necessary to get there. So, I might ask a client, ‘how would one high profile speaking engagement feel?  Would it feel amazing?  Would it be more than you had done the previous year? Would it add to your skills and expertise? Would it increase your exposure at work? Yes?!’ Then, I would say, start creating an action plan to make it happen.

This is not to say that the grand goals cannot be accomplished—they can! But if you set smaller goals that can be achieved, your body creates a kind of muscle memory around that success and then seeks that success out in other ways. But if your goals depend on plans that are bound to fail, your body creates muscle memories around failure and then ¾ oh no! ¾ seeks out more of that failure.  Small accomplishments beget larger ones.  This is about re-training ourselves for professional success.

I would challenge each of us to do something manageable—today!  That way there is no ‘Old Work Me’ and ‘New Work Me.’ It’s simply You. You, finding ways to actualize your professional goals. And, You, creating small successes so your body craves larger ones.

If you have a project or possibility in your head, begin to tackle it now. I mean right after you are done reading this post. What is one thing that you could do towards you goal that you can accomplish in 5 minutes?

You might say to me, “That’s the problem, this is too big of an idea!” And I say that is exactly why it is so vexing.  It is not yet manageable.  Can you spend 5 minutes writing out the small steps that you might take towards your goal?  And if you accomplished this task of outlining the steps, would you have a clearer vision of what you need to do towards your goal?  My guess is, yes. 

Happy New Year!


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  • About the Author: Alexandra Phillips

    Alexandra Phillips

    Alexandra Phillips has over ten years of experience in coaching, consulting, professional development, and public speaking. She has worked as a career coach with executives at many organizations, incl…

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  1. Doris Gonzalez 0 people like this 23 Jan. 2017 12:48 PM

    Love your sage advice, Alexandra! Making grand goals at the beginning of the year is a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment! Smaller, consistent, more attainable goals inherently will encourage you to stay on course! Thank you!

    1. Alexandra Phillips 0 people like this 24 Jan. 2017 07:31 PM

      I'm so glad the article was valuable Doris. Success is usually found in the commitment to the small. Happy 2017!