January 1. A new year is approaching—quickly. And if you're like most people, you toss around the idea of setting a New Year's resolution.
Yes, you could choose to pass on creating resolutions for 2015. You could even decide to create some vague ones and "see what happens," then shrug your shoulders when you fall off the wagon. You would blend right in with 92 percent of the population.
Or you could be part of the elite 8 percent.
According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, that is the percentage of people who are successful in achieving their resolutions. That could include you. If you need a pick-me-up with your educational or professional goals, consider these perks for creating—and keeping—your resolutions:
- Feeling of Accomplishment: Imagine how you'll feel on December 31, 2015, when you look back and realize you achieved a goal (or two!) that you set all the way back in January. This is an exclusive club you won't regret joining, because you can't argue with the fulfilling sense of accomplishment. The best part about achieving a resolution is how it affects other aspects of your life. Your confidence doesn't go down when you succeed. It goes up. Whether you notice it or not, others might, and that may just get you one step closer to your professional or educational goals.
- Expand Your Boundaries: Expanding your knowledge or skill sets is an attractive feature for employers—present or future. It shows you're willing to step outside of the box. Additionally, if you don't use your brain cells, you lose them. So create new ones by trying something new. There is no limit to learning, so don't stop!
- Fine-tune Your Follow-through Skills: If you find you often create goals and then don't follow through, this is the perfect opportunity to focus on those skills in a safe space. If you can do something for a year, then you can easily tackle smaller projects. Maybe you'll build up your professional reputation when you decide to volunteer for a project at work or nominate yourself to be a group leader. Practice makes perfect!
Intrigued? Let's talk about tips for creating resolutions that will set you up for success.
- Forget Mount Everest. Start small. You're more likely to achieve your goal if you aren't asking yourself for a huge monetary, time or strength commitment.
- Be specific. One of the top 2014 resolutions included "Learn Something Exciting." Would finding out that the movie Wizard of Oz was a remake of a black-and-white silent film qualify as "something exciting?" Who knows? This resolution is too vague. If you're not specific, you're less likely to reach your goal because you won't know exactly what you're aiming for.
- Make it measurable. Another top one from 2014 was "Enjoy Life to the Fullest." Admirable, but how would you know if you reached your goal? You wouldn't. There's no way to show that you accomplished that. Find a way to make your resolution quantitative.
- Look beyond the necessities. If you do something regularly, don't make it a resolution. This is the opportunity to try something new without punishment if you happen to fail.
- Don't focus on "not failing." If you keep thinking about a resolution, then telling yourself, "No, I can't possibly do that," that's probably something you should really try. If you end up not hitting your target and missing your resolution, it doesn't matter! Keep pushing forward.
Here are some examples of resolutions that can help you get ahead...
- I resolve to turn in all of my homework one day before the deadline.
- I resolve to volunteer to be the leader of a group project in at least half of my classes.
- I resolve to get more final grades of A's in my classes than last year.
- I resolve to volunteer for at least one project that is outside my typical work duties.
- I resolve to read at least four books across the year that are related to my job field then discuss my takeaways with my boss.
- I resolve to ask one of my organization's leaders to be my mentor.
The past is just that — the past. 2015 is a new start. You can do anything you want and making resolutions can help you get there. There's no downside. You only stand to benefit. Don't be part of the 38 percent who never even bother to make New Year's resolutions. Your resolutions may just get you ahead, but you won't know if you don't try.
If you're not already pursuing your degree, is going back to school on your resolutions list for 2015? Find out if now is the right time - download our Back to School Guide.