Not-So-Typical Resolutions to Help You Learn and Grow in 2020
Does your 2020 New Year’s Resolution involve putting on yoga pants, entering a sweat-filled room, following the shouted instructions of someone for about an hour, and walking out barely able to feel your legs? If so, you’re among the 12 percent of Americans who, in an effort to start focusing on fitness, join a gym in the month of January. When it comes to personal resolutions, it’s an honorable one, as health and wellness are very important. But when it comes to professional resolutions, what if you considered a different approach?
Research has shown that January 17 is the day most New Year’s resolutions fail. We’ve compiled advice from some of the world’s leading business, finance, and self-help experts for not-so-typical resolutions to focus on this next year (and how to stick to them throughout 2020).
The following tips are aimed at helping you learn something new, be a better employee and co-worker, grow in your professional and personal life, and push yourself to new limits. Think of these less as “resolutions,” and more as ways that you can get out of your comfort zone next year and improve in small but important ways.
1. Brené Brown: Prioritize play.
Dr. Brené Brown is an author and research professor at the University of Houston who studies shame, vulnerability, and empathy. She found that wholehearted people, her coined term for men and women who live their lives with the courage to be vulnerable, shared something else: they goof off. They engage in leisure activities, and have fun doing them. She realized that these adults were taking time to play.
As adults, spending time without purpose often feels counterintuitive to the million to-do’s on our list. Yet, Brown says that play—doing things just for fun, and not with an end goal in mind—is vital to human development, and is at the core of creativity and innovation.
Resolve to: Create a “play list.” Write down three activities you could do for hours on end if you had the chance, and post it somewhere you’ll see it regularly. Schedule regular unstructured “play” into your calendar, and during that time, put away your devices, clear your mind, and let yourself lose track of time and self-consciousness. Protect this time as you would an important work meeting or life occasion. This time of unstructured play gives space for new ideas and inspiration to flow.
2. Dave Ramsey: Examine your financial habits.
When it comes to our health, financial health isn’t always top of mind, but perhaps it should be. In order to make your financial goals a reality, you may need to consider which spending habits are keeping you from goals like getting out of debt or building a healthy emergency fund.
Resolve to: Be more intentional with your money.Getting a granular view of exactly where your money is going each month will help you take a hard look at your takeout pizza obsession, or realize that your home makeover budget rivals that of Joanna and Chip Gaines. By creating a zero-based budget—a budget in which your income minus your expenses equals zero—you’ll be able to account for every cent and start living on less than you make in order to make progress toward your financial goals. As you notice patterns emerge in your spending, you can determine whether the areas where you spend most are in line with your values and goals for the future.
3. Maria Shriver: Stop complaining.
It’s easy to complain—and, unfortunately, it can also be quite contagious in spreading negativity in the workplace (and beyond). If you’re considering giving something up this next year, complaining seems like an excellent choice. Shriver initially talked about her experiment to stop complaining in this 2016 LinkedIn post, and she discusses how so much of what we complain about is inconsequential. To combat this, she created a “complaining-free zone”—instead choosing to focus on gratitude. “Out with the complaints both small and large, because those complaints impact my space, my day, my relationship with others and my life.”
Resolve to: Make a pledge to refrain from complaining in both your work and home environments and choose a day to start. When someone around you complains, you can simply walk away from the situation, or you can make your new rule known. Post your complaining-free pledge in a visible place near your workspace. Others may catch on and decide to stop their negative behavior, too. Go for positivity and gratitude for the win!
4. Seth Godin: Go above and beyond.
If the dreaded meeting on your calendar for tomorrow was actually the last interview for your dream job, how would you approach it differently? Author, entrepreneur, and speaker Godin writes that you should show up to a meeting with the same enthusiasm as you would in a job interview. “When we are contributing, we can show up with the same enthusiasm we use when we’re asking for something.”
Resolve to: Ask, “How can I show up for more others?”Find ways to contribute your energy and talent to help your colleagues, rather than focusing solely on what you need from them. Show kindness and respect to those you work with by putting your energy, commitment, and professionalism into the initiatives and projects important to them. Give your all in meetings; generously contribute in group brainstorms; and go out of your way to help someone else who’s grappling with a challenging project or deadline. By shifting your focus to what others need, you’ll strengthen work relationships, improve communication and collaboration, and help make better work all around.
Signature’s Consultant Care team grew organically out of our belief that when people and relationships come first, it’s a win-win. The program gives our consultants a support system they can count on, and helps us deliver the best possible results for our clients.
5. Greta Thunberg: Contribute to the greater good.
“I want you to act as if the world is on fire, because it is,” 16-year-old climate and environmental activist Thunberg famously said at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019. When she’s not attending school in Sweden, Thunberg is sparking global movements for change. She’s spoken in front of hundreds of world leaders at global summits and led millions of people around the world in climate strikes. Yet, this global movement started with one relatively small action: Thunberg won a climate-change essay competition for a Swedish newspaper in May 2018. That led to her starting the School Strike for Climate effort three months later, and a few months after that, she launched her first protest.
Resolve to: Take a cue from Thunberg, and get involved in a cause that’s meaningful to you. Whether it’s climate change or something else entirely, commit to three ways you can make changes to your routine or volunteer your time to make a greater impact on your community. Determine what kinds of actions are manageable for you to contribute to your cause, and schedule them into your calendar for 2020. These small changes will likely snowball into larger changes or commitments of time, and before you know it, you’ve started a movement.
6. Cal Newport: Cut out low-value digital noise.
Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University who writes about the intersection of digital technology and culture, argues that social media platforms are designed to be as addictive to users as possible, and that this can be quite detrimental to our lives and mental health. In addition, the time we’re spending on certain platforms could be re-allocated to start a side business, learn a new skill, or complete a certification.
Resolve to: “Use technology to support your goals and values, rather than letting it use you,” Newport advises. Instead of giving all of our attention to social media platforms, Newport explains that we can make the choice to be more selective in our social media use and choose only the ones that offer us the most value, while clearing out the low-value digital noise to make way for valuable and important work. Make 2020 the year you finish that lingering dream project.
7. Gary Vaynerchuk: Reverse-engineer your career.
Entrepreneur and tech investor Vaynerchuk believes in the hustle, but when asked about the habit that’s changed everything for him, it’s the ability to reverse-engineer the finish line of his career. Reverse-engineering entails going back, step by step, from your biggest career dream or goal and figuring out what the steps are from there, back to the present time. How did you get from there to here? Knowing the steps backwards will enable you to determine what you need to do to reach that dream and make it a reality. Then the real work can begin.
Resolve to: Spend some time thinking about what your finish line looks like. As Vaynerchuk says, “If I am 80 years old and still a businessman, how do I want to be talked about? What kinds of relationships do I want to have? And, most of all: How do I want to feel about myself?” Your behavior leading up to that end point should be in line with your answers. Do your own reverse-engineer exercise once you determine your end goal, and use the steps you create as a guide. You’ll likely find that knowing your personal “finish line” and the path to get you there will help you be more intentional and focused in your career this next year.
8. Jonathan Van Ness: Forgive your failures.
Van Ness, one of the stars of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” TV show, says, “Life is so much a daily exercise in learning to love yourself and forgive yourself, over and over.” His stepdad taught him to ask himself, “What is the next correct decision?” when confronted with a challenge. He says it’s helped him figure out the next right thing to do, again and again, and that these decisions compound and eventually lead to something amazing. From Van Ness’s perspective, finding success is largely about how quickly you move between your failures and dust yourself off and get back up, regardless of your field.
Resolve to: Take on your next challenge—whether it’s a job interview, a career move, or a tough conversation at work—one step at a time. Ask yourself, “What’s the next correct decision?” and if things don’t go as intended, work to move beyond your disappointment to the next thing you need to do to move closer to your goal. When you look back on the year, you’ll likely find that you’ve accomplished much more than you thought by forging ahead to the next “right thing to do,” rather than giving up after a rejection or failure. As Richard Branson has said, “A setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.”
9. Dr. Maya Angelou: Just do right.
As the late poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Dr. Angelou said, the best thing we can do in our communities, our schools, and our workplaces is to just do right. In her words, “The truth is, right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul. It brings you the kind of protection that bodyguards can’t give you. Try to be all you can be to be the best human being you can be…make it a better world.”
Resolve to: Focus on doing the right thing as an employer, as an employee, and as an individual and member of your community. From a professional standpoint, before you do something, ask yourself why you’re doing it. What are your motivations when you respond to a client’s concerns, fire off an email to a co-worker, or make a policy change that will have important repercussions for the organization? Does your action match up with your values?
At Signature, we live by a similar guiding principle: Do the right thing. That means acting with honesty, transparency, and integrity—and it’s threaded through everything we do.
Focus on one thing at a time
As James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” says, behavior change is hard, but focusing on building one new behavior into your life at a time will greatly increase your probability of success.
Here’s to improving in small, but meaningful, ways this next year.
About Signature Consultants, LLC
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.