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Forget Career Resolutions; Try These 3 Powerful Alternatives Instead

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Forget Career Resolutions; Try These 3 Powerful Alternatives Instead

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Have you made your New Year’s career resolutions yet?

Resolutions sound great in theory: aspirational wishes made in the heady glow of the new year when anything seems possible.

And with the promise of 365 days to accomplish your goals, they seem like an awesome way to kickstart 2023.

The only problem? Making resolutions is easy; keeping them is challenging, especially as time goes on.

Research shows that while about three-quarters of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions during the first week of January, that figure drops to under half by June.

That’s both depressing and demotivating. And given our years-long pandemic battle and impending recession, no one needs more of either.

This year, skip the 2023 career resolutions altogether and instead, try one of these three powerful alternatives:

1. Write a letter to your future self.

A play on the “What would you tell your younger self?” exercise, try penning a letter to future you, describing how you want to feel, what you’ve accomplished in 2023, and what you hope to be celebrating this time next year.

You can handwrite this and tuck it away in a sealed envelope to be opened in January 2023, or you can head to FutureMe, where you can do the online equivalent, writing yourself a private or public (but anonymous) letter. The site allows you to select a delivery date one, three, or five years from now or choose a date significant for you, like a birthday or business anniversary milestone. You then enter your email and send a letter to your future self.

Whatever method you choose, challenge yourself to be curious about the possibilities and consider what your new career story might be. In crafting your work, resist the urge to edit and, instead, allow yourself to include everything that will help you achieve your goals. Write down your loftiest aspirations as well as the smaller wins. Describe the ideal environment and its people, the behaviors to adopt, and the bad habits to change.

There is power in visualizing your desired future, writing it down, and then watching your life manifest in kind. Even if it doesn’t unfold the way you imagined, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you learn about yourself in the process—and be able to use that knowledge to make adjustments for your next letter.

2. Pick a word to guide you for the year.

I can vouch for the power of this method. Every year, I select a word to guide me and focus my efforts. That word becomes my North Star for the year by which everything I do must adhere. This forces me to do two things:

  1. Get clarity on what I want
  2. Align my activities to support those goals

In other words, it ensures I marry my attention with my intention. As someone whose mind is always on, brimming with creative possibilities, it helps to have this touchpoint to come back to.

And if you’re a visual person like me, you can amplify your word’s power and your awareness of it by strategically placing it in your orbit. For example, I have my word written on the whiteboard in my office, displayed as a colorful visual taped above my laptop, scribbled at the top of my weekly to-do list, and jotted in my phone’s notes section.

Go one step further by sharing your word and reasons for selecting it privately or making your declaration public on social media. You can also ask others (family, friends, colleagues, or clients) what their words would be, which opens up a dialogue and fosters a better understanding of what matters most to them.

3. Set a weekly intention.

If you bristle at the thought of committing to anything for an entire year, why not break it down into manageable weekly chunks?

Start each week by setting an intention on what you want to achieve. This could be anything related to your well-being or business, from getting more sleep to passing on projects so you can say yes to those that put your talents to their highest and best use.

Make sure to pair whatever you select with specific actions to achieve your intention. (Think: “position my services to attract and appeal to my ideal customer” versus “make more money.”) Making a weekly mini-commitment to yourself will keep you focused on what matters most.

Want to 10x this idea? Get an accountability partner with whom you share your weekly intention—and how you did with the previous week’s intended behavior or mindset.

Remember, career progress isn’t necessarily made through a resolution; it’s achieved one small and intentional step at a time. And by using one of these three alternatives, you’ll end the year stronger than you started it.

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