4 Steps for Getting Your Career Resolutions Back on Track

Deborah Swerdlow

A person walking.

By this point in the year, New Year’s Day—and the career resolutions you made way back when—can feel like a distant memory. But even if you haven’t made as much progress on your career resolutions as you had hoped, you don’t have to give up.

A simple change of outlook and attitude may be all you need to re-energize you on your journey to fulfilling your professional goals. If you switch your outlook from “glass half empty” to “glass half full,” you’ll see that you still have six months to make it happen!

Read on for four steps to get your New Year’s career resolutions back on track for the rest of the year.

Forgive yourself

Read this part as many times as needed until you believe it: It’s okay that you haven’t kept your resolutions. You are not a failure, and you are not alone!

An estimated 80% of New Year’s resolutions fall to the wayside by the beginning of February. Change can be hard, and there may be a lot of reasons why you haven’t made much progress. Now is the time to stop feeling guilty, forgive yourself, and allow yourself to move forward and look to the future. You can’t change anything that happened in the last six months, but you can control what happens next.

Reevaluate your resolutions

Look at your career resolutions with a fresh set of eyes. What motivated you to set them in the first place? Are they still the right ones given where you are in your career?

Perhaps one reason you didn’t keep your resolutions is because your priorities have shifted. In December, finding a new job may have been at the top of your list. But maybe things have changed at work or at home and now you’d like to explore growth opportunities in your current organization. It’s okay to abandon those resolutions that no longer make sense and set new ones instead.

Another thing that may be to blame is having set a resolution that wasn’t SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. In that case, the problem wasn’t the idea or motivation behind the resolution, but rather your plan (or lack thereof) for achieving your goal.

For example, if your resolution was to “figure out your next move,” that’s not very specific or measurable. A SMARTer resolution would be to explore graduate school options and create a list of the top five programs you want to keep in mind for when you’re ready to go back to school.

(Re)Start small

Even a SMART resolution can still feel overwhelming, especially with only six months left in the year. It can be hard to know where to start, so pick something small—a single task or milestone to set your sights on—that will help you know you’re making progress.

If your resolution is to grow your digital networking skills, start by updating your online profiles and regularly posting relevant content, whether that’s once a week or once a day.

If you resolve to have five informational interviews before the end of the year, start by making a list of people you can ask for an interview or contacts who may be able to connect you with the right people. Once you have connected with the folks with whom you’d like to meet, send them each a Doodle calendar so that you can set firm dates for your meetings (at their convenience).

Schedule time to check on your resolutions before December

Don’t let another six months go by before checking back in. Schedule an alert on your calendar for two months from now or another appropriate time to step back and reflect on your progress.

Pro tip: Sometimes it’s a little too easy to ignore an alert on your calendar. But you know what’s less easy to ignore? A person who knows your resolution and can hold you to it. Think of it as having an “accountability buddy”—someone who can assess how you’re doing and be honest with you if you’re falling short.

If you’re still not happy with how you’re doing at your check-in point, reevaluate your resolutions again: Have your priorities changed? Could your resolutions be SMARTer? Is the resolution right, but you’re missing key tools or information to make it happen?

Reflecting on your progress before the end of the year will give you enough time to course-correct as needed so that you can start 2019 with new career resolutions, instead of continuing to work on the leftover ones that never got off the ground.

Did you enjoy this post? There's plenty more where this came from! Subscribe here for updates.

Deborah Swerdlow

As a nonprofit advocacy professional living in Washington, D.C., Deborah works with groups across the country to educate their communities and lawmakers about public policies that can help low-income residents make ends meet. She is passionate about helping people connect their interests to a cause they believe in and empowering them to take action.

Explore Jobs on Idealist