Ditch your resolutions

January 17th is a day that divides the world into two groups: people who accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions and people who don’t. It’s National Ditch Your Resolutions Day, and as an avid goal-maker and to-do list lover, I whole heartedly support it.

Two weeks in to a new diet, exercise regime, or career plan is usually the point when we all realize gosh, this is difficult. In fact, there are entire industries peddling beautiful planners, offering goal-building courses and incentivizing memberships through the promise of ’New Year, New You’.

But old you is pretty great, and I bet present you is awesome, too. You may have lofty ideas about your career progression, freelancing gigs, and business building, but in honor of this special holiday let’s develop legitimate career goals by ditching our resolutions.

Drop your resolutions like a bad habit

You may have just decided on your career- or business-related goals a couple weeks ago, but don’t we often make emotional decisions during the holidays, under a deadline, and exhausted from the last 3 months? So quit them right now (in the name of this new holiday). Yes, even the good ones! Because if you love something, set it free, if it comes back it’s yours. If it doesn’t, then it’s not the right resolution for you.

Think about what gives you pain

We spend a lot of time as humans avoiding pain and even avoiding thinking about pain. This step, therefore, probably won’t be enjoyable. Reflect back on the year (and years before that) and think about those work projects that made you want to gauge your eyes out. Reminisce about that really, truly, awful client or that time you wasted a whole week trying out a productivity tool that was just not your jam.

Imagine future you in all your glory 

As a reward for going through all that pain, you can now think about all the good things that are just 6 months, 1 year, 5 years+ down the road. Get specific. What does a day in the life of future you look like? Start with your commute whether it’s 3 train connections or 3 steps from your bed. Imagine the work you’ll be doing, who you’ll be collaborating with, and how you will end each day.

Compare apples and oranges

Now, what are the painful parts of the past that do not exist in future you’s daily or weekly routine? I’m sure we all wish we could skip taxes, but be realistic about what’s possible to eliminate or change. Or add. Sometimes the lack of something is the silent killer of your joy and happiness. You probably already have a few new ideas about what to drop or bring into your work life.

Plan from a new perspective

Now take a look at those original goals we dropped and ask yourself is this resolution a solution to both last year’s pain and future me’s life? Is it specific, realistic and explicit enough to accomplish? Have you made strides in the last couple weeks? Do you feel confident about your progress? Statistics show that 59% of New Year’s Resolutions do not bring the resolvers any closer to accomplishing their career goals, but 100% of resolutions made on Ditch Your Resolutions Day are successful*.

So, take this opportunity to ditch your resolution and piece together a goal that solves your dilemma by bridging the gap between your past pain and your future happiness. What are your career goals for 2017?

*32% of statistics are made up on the spot, but I got one of mine from www.statisticbrain.com

This is a guest post by Bree Weber. Bree is a book designer and publishing consultant who loves Oxford commas. You can reach out to her on Twitter @thebookoctopus

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