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New Year's resolution fails: Cut yourself some slack and get on track

NYFailYou made a New Year’s resolution: I will find that job that takes my career to the next level. Perhaps you want to earn that data analytics certificate since you keep hearing about the demand for data analytics skills and how data analytics is changing the profession. Or was your resolution to get through 2021 better than 2020 (fair enough)?

Now it’s March and you feel like a failure, at least on the New Year’s resolution front. Here are three steps to get back on track.

1. Accept that you failed.

It’s hard to admit you’ve failed. This should make us all feel better: by February 1, 80% of Americans have abandoned their New Year’s resolution. Psychology Today says when you make your resolution on Jan. 1, you’re basing it on a calendar date even though you aren’t prepared to change. This sounds so much better than a lack of self-discipline.

So, you failed. Allow yourself grace and try again. But only when you’re ready.

2. Break it down.

One of the common and biggest mistakes people make when trying to accomplish an important goal is to take large steps rather than baby steps. Map out a plan but start small.

Let’s say you’re ready for the next step in your career. It’s OK to set the bold goal of finding a dream job by the end of the year. But break it down by quarter, then by month and then by week. It’s called micro-planning, and Harvard Business Review’s article suggests that even daily check-ins are beneficial.

Once you have your plan, stay focused. Easy to say, hard to do. When you accomplish a small weekly goal, reward yourself. It could be a walk in the middle of the day or a phone call to a friend at lunch.

3. Do things your way.

Again, break it down into baby steps but consider the way you do things. When looking for a new job, would you rather talk to contacts first to get some advice? Or do you prefer to do research before taking any steps? Start with the way you handle a situation and craft your steps from there. Don’t forget to check out our Global Career Hub if you’re looking for a new job opportunity.

What if your goal was to learn new skills that will make you more valuable to your employer and future employers? Think about how you learn best to make your resolution more achievable. Do you prefer to spend a concentrated amount of time, mostly unplugged from work interruptions? Then conferences could be your best choice. Do you enjoy the conference learning experience but want to learn new technology skills, hone your abilities in new practice areas and increase your leadership opportunities all at the same time? Our ENGAGE 2021 event could be the ticket. ENGAGE allows you to focus on one niche area or cross over into any of our 10 tracks to explore as many new opportunities as you want.

Do you prefer to learn in small chunks? If you like webcasts, consider our Annual Webcast Pass. You can use it to access hundreds of interactive webcasts for a full year at no additional cost. Learn a variety of topics specific to your current work or explore a topic outside your specialty that you’ve been wanting to pursue. With Webcast Pass, you can also attend our popular Town Hall Series and stay in the know on the latest news, updates and pressing issues for the accounting profession around the pandemic, PPP guidance, IRS developments and more.

Tailoring the system for you is the key to helping you stick with a goal. After all, it seemed important enough in January to say you’d make a change.

Finally, the Psychology Today article mentioned earlier says that you will probably relapse if you decide to address that resolution you’ve put off. And if you do? See No. 1 above.

Association Staff

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