New Year, New You

Haaaaaaappy New Year! Well it’s official; 2014 has come and gone, and we’re at the start of a shiny new year full of well wishes and New Year’s resolutions. Despite the almost negative temperatures of a Midwest January, there is a spark of excitement and opportunity in the air. A clean slate. A fresh start.
From a business perspective, it is a time for implementing new strategies. All of those plans your team discussed, brainstormed, and debated at the end of last year are now ready to be shared with the world. There is, no doubt, a well written document outlining each step in great detail, explaining how this new strategy will improve the company.

Forgetting Something?
All of the planning for the next business year always seems to be focused on strategies for the business, but what about the people that make up the business? The company will never improve if the people that make up the company don’t improve as well.

Make a List
January is a time most people make a list of resolutions that usually goes something like this:
1. Go to the gym
2. Eat healthier
3. Save money

While those are all great resolutions, they will not necessarily help your inner businessperson. So, in addition to the personal list of resolutions you make, create a list of business resolutions you want to apply to your work routine. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1. Make a list of professional goals. Making yourself think about goals and evaluating your work will help you analyze what needs improvement and what does not. Choose only a few areas of your job you think could be improved upon, there’s no need to get carried away and change everything about your work ethic. Be sure to list out the steps of how you will achieve each goal. Those steps are almost more important than the actual goals; if you have no plan of action, how will you fulfill your goals? As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

2. Stop complaining. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself when the stresses of work start piling up, along with the projects you have to complete by yesterday. Everyone is there at one time or another, but how each individual chooses to handle the stress is different. You can complain to everyone about how busy you are, or you can set a realistic timeline and get everything done to the best of your ability. Hopefully it’s pretty obvious which is the better option. You were hired because your boss believes you are the best fit for the position, don’t make them think otherwise.

3. Set boundaries. This goal is important for anyone that works with people both internal and external to the company (so about 99% of the working industry.) Make sure you can clearly describe to people what is important enough to ask for your help, and what they should try to figure out on their own. Obviously, if a client or coworker is struggling then they should not be afraid to reach out to you, and you should be eager to help. However, you should make it clear that you want the client or coworker to do their best to answer the question before sending you 15 emails in an hour with trivial questions. They will most likely figure out the answer 5 minutes after they email you. By making it clear when to contact you and when to work it out themselves, you will save yourself valuable time.

Of course there are countless other ways to improve upon your work life. You just need to find what works best for you. It is a New Year, and the possibilities are endless.

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