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7 New Year's resolutions for busy professionals

Are you ready to make 2016 your best year yet?

Because we spend a large proportion of our lives working, it should go without saying that our work, career and personal goals are all deeply intertwined.

Pursuing work goals leads to increased personal confidence. And likewise, pursuing personal goals can lead to improved workplace performance skills.

So how can you make 2016 your best year yet and bring all of your goals to fruition? That's what we're here to find out...

Brain Tracy, marketing expert, suggests starting by:

"Asking yourself this question… "Where do I want to be in 12 months?"

And, yes, that's very practical advice. But you need vision, too. Matt Mayberry, performance strategist, recommends that you:

"See yourself beyond your current circumstances and, most importantly, see yourself living the massively successful year that you want to live."

Further, Briana Everett argues that:

"Following this 'visionary' phase, it's time to scale back some of those dreams into realistic objectives by setting specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals."

Want to put all of their advice into action? Add the following New Year's resolutions, goals and practical tips to your agenda.

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Commit to achieving goals

How many times have you gone into a new year and failed to achieve anything you set out to do?

If you're like most people, you're nodding your head thinking, yep - almost every year.

Now is the time to change all that.

Your first resolution should be to commit to actually achieving your goals.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, illustrates the importance of creating values and a culture that matters, saying:

"We developed a list of committable core values…not just values that end up being part of a meaningless plaque on the wall."

You need to embrace a similar mindset when it comes to creating your resolutions and goals, and actually committing to bringing them into reality.

Committing to achieving your goals means you have to accept the kind of person you need to become.

  • What is it going to take to actually achieve those goals?
  • What will you need to transform to make them a reality?
  • Are you really prepared to instill the new habits and skills?

Really drill down and analyze the type of man or woman you need to become. If your resolutions are really what you want, doing so will help you hold onto your vision every step of the way.

Don't believe us? Take it from Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, who says:

"The power to keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness."
Develop key personal skills

Developing better personal skills is something that'll help you in both your personal and professional lives. If you're in any type of management role, they're particularly important.

A while back, we ran a survey that identified the following three traits as being the most important for those in management positions:

  1. Being more approachable (25%)
  2. Keeping their cool under pressure (16%)
  3. Being confident (14%)

While being approachable ranked highest on the list of desirable management skills, only 14% of those who responded to a following question on personal skills and traits stated that they, themselves, possess this ability.

To foster more approachability, David Peck, a coach at Goodstone Group, recommends these tips:

  • Check yourself. When you're under pressure, stressed by deadlines, or feeling frustrated, it can be easy to miss your own blind spots. Check yourself regularly and examine whether your responses come from an open, approachable place.
  • Acknowledge ideas and suggestions. Even a simple thank you is enough to make people feel heard and appreciated.
  • Listen. Letting people know they're heard goes a long way towards fostering an approachable environment.

Keeping cool under pressure follows much along the same lines as above, particularly when it comes to your ability to be aware and check yourself.

If you feel the pressure cooker building up, don't react. Take a short walk, a breath, a break, or just count to three until you're ready to respond in an appropriate manner.

And then, there's confidence.

Try to tap in and understand the origins of any internal self doubt so that you can work on eliminating them. Much of the time, confidence issues are a matter of perception rather than reality - most people have far more ability than they recognize.

One sure fire way to increase your confidence? Face your fears by doing things outside your comfort zone. Personal and professional accomplishments always promote a boost in confidence levels.

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Get a raise or promotion

Setting out to get a raise or promotion isn't something that generally happens at random. If you really want it, it's something that needs to be strategized and planned.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to you to hear that top workforce performers are the most likely to scoop up big bonuses - but that doesn't happen by chance. These top performers are constantly putting themselves forward and center to gain the attention and rewards.

Here's how you can do it too:

  • Document all your accomplishments. Write down any projects you manage, assignments you complete, and contributions you make that have helped the company grow. Wherever possible try to calculate and quantify these in terms of money, time, growth and customers.
  • Become irreplaceable. Work on your skills and be the go-to guy or gal that people rely on as the most effective and efficient.
  • Be flexible. Being open to taking on the tasks that no one else wants to do and having the ability to be adaptable is very appealing to employers.
  • Take on BIG things. This is especially useful when it's close to review time. Be prepared to take on the big projects and go the extra distance. It'll make a big difference in terms of how you're perceived relative to your coworkers.

When you put these strategies and plans in place, you can face up to your employer at any time with documented data that shows your level of commitment to the company and your contributions to its growth.

And under those circumstances? No smart employer would dare risk losing you, making it more likely you'll be granted that big raise and promotion, year after year.

Start a side gig

Based survey data we've collected, only 39% of people felt secure in their job, and 16% said they are always exploring new job opportunities.

Maybe that means it's time to get involved in a new side gig. It's called "daylighting," and you'll be surprised by how many people are engaging in another form of work while being employed fulltime.

People do it for both financial and personal reasons. But one thing that's been proven is that it opens up a whole world of creative expression that can help you grow on a personal and professional level.

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Upgrade your network

The people you associate with influence you on every level. Are the people around you helping you achieve your desires or holding you back?

It's good to examine this on a personal and professional level.

Seek out people better than you. Seek out mentors. Seek out visionaries.

Networking is no longer the standard ‘push-outyour-business-card' at the latest company mixer process. The key to effective networking is to listen more than you talk. You want to be inspired, gather news, and learn.

As Kate White, Networking Expert and former chief of Cosmopolitan, says:

"The formula I've seen work again and again is this: Contact + Curiosity = Opportunity."

Another advantage of upgrading your network is that it helps boost your professional position - basically, it's called "authority by association."

The more experts you hang out with, the more people see you as an expert - you also become a 'perceived authority' in the minds of others.

You'd better believe that'll be good for your personal and professional lives.

Generate some buzz

Whether it's for your own company or to help boost your personal profile, generating some media attention can be a fun goal to work towards - after all, there's nothing quite like being in the spotlight.

Your networking efforts will come into play here because, when it comes to the press, the old adage rings true: "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

In your networking endeavors, aim to target key media people and start building those relationships. Another interesting avenue might include writing for a publication in your industry to generate buzz while, at the same time, building a side gig as a freelance writer. It's a win-win if you've got the skills.

Use your social media profiles to boost your personal profile and continuously put yourself forward as an expert. And, most importantly, have fun with it. You never know where this kind of good publicity will lead.

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Improve your work/life balance

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: work/life balance may seem elusive, but it's an important goal. And there's no better time to address it than with your New Year's resolutions.

A work/life balance can definitely be achieved - you just need to know how to divide your attention and arrange your priorities.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Make deliberate choices about where to invest your time. According to research we conducted, 31% of people said the best thing to do is sit down and reevaluate what's really important and learn to say "no."
  1. Be open with your colleagues and loved ones Express your needs to those around you and tell them how you intend to split your time so they can help support your goals.
  2. Set boundaries (and learn to stick to them). Combine both your personal and professional calendars, and use time blocks to divide things into achievable schedules. Then, most importantly, do your best to prevent other priorities from interfering with the schedules you've set for yourself.
  3. Turn off your technology. The number of times we've received emails from professionals at 2 am, or heard stories of business owners checking emails 24/7 is astounding. Everyone needs a break from technology. Switching off (literally) is a major key to finding that work/life balance you're after.

Achieving more balance isn't just a personal goal. Sure, doing so will make you happier, but it'll also make you better at your job by making you more focused, more energized, more creative, and more productive.

Normal, everyday people are out there achieving extraordinary things, and there's no reason you can't become one of them in 2016.

Go get to work on these resolutions. Make them real. Make them committable. Make them a priority, and you'll find that - whatever it is you want to achieve - you'll be able to go out there and get it.

What other New Year's resolutions are on the horizon for you in 2016?

Free Resources

How to Excel Professionally

For a limited time only, learn how to make the leap to the next level using proven tactics for free!