Instead, try the "three words" technique
Each New Year, a spate of articles appears on resolutions for improving something or several things in your life. If you're unemployed, under-employed, or unhappily employed, you may be tempted to make a resolution to get a new job in the new year. Don't.
It's not that I don't want you to find a new job in the new year. I do. It's why I'm writing this post. But there is much about getting a new job that is out of your control, from the economy to the availability of jobs, as well as the generally competitive landscape. A better use of your time is to find things within your control that better position you for ultimate success.
Finding a job and being gainfully employed is, in fact, so important that I don't want you to relegate that effort to a lowly resolution--especially when research continues to show that resolutions, like diets, don't work. New Year's Resolutions can run strong for up to 60 days, but invariably fail by February (if not after a week).
More importantly, it can be devastating to set a timeframe for a resolution, e.g. lose 10 pounds by Valentine's Day, or get a new job by the end of Q1. Life is on its own time management regime, and like so much else, time is largely out of our control. So as bad as setting a resolution can be, putting a timeline on a resolution can be even worse, as it can set you up for failure. It's why some pundits recommend keeping resolutions vague.
So if a resolution is out of the question, what can you do to create a successful mindset for the new year? One idea is to try Chris Brogan's concept of three words. The concept is simple. Pick three words that resonate with you on whatever you want to focus on throughout the year. Brogan, a respected digital expert and entrepreneurial motivator, and his collaborator Rob Hatch have been practicing it since 2006, and Brogan annually publishes his words. Just Google "Chris Brogan Three Words" to see past lists.
Last year, I joined a digital learning community, a small group of likeminded individuals that meets weekly for an hour to discuss various topics. As a group, we agreed to each adopt three words as personal mantras for the year. I had the hardest time choosing three words, and kept changing words throughout the year. This month, after an in-person get together for the holidays, the group, pleased with how the three words concept worked for them, decided to give it a go again. I'm now in the process of selecting three new words for the new year.
Can this work for you if you're struggling with work issues? Give it a try. Here are some word suggestions to get you started:
Focus. Certification. Professional. Move. Forward. Gratitude. Optimism. Risk. Commitment. Punctuality. Learning. Study. Stamina. Sleep. Routine. Coaches. Mentor. Volunteer. Patience. Clarity. Form. Design. Enrich. Visibility. Steps. Faith. Fishing. Digital. Footprints. Asks. Connection. Community. Ownership. Responsibility. Accountable. Assured. Growth. Practiced. Patience. Confidence. Experience. Motivation.
I could make a case for any of them, and there are thousands more. There are no right three words and no wrong. And, if you're like me, they don't have to last all year long--just until a different word comes along to pull at your heartstrings. Each word can mean something different for different people. The only thing that's important is what the word means to you.
Even with three words, however, focus can fail, just as it does with resolutions. The reason may be in your support system. One common theme in resolution articles is the need for a buddy system or support group. It is why many advocate for job clubs similar to the value of Weight Watchers for dieters. More a fan of going it alone, I'm not an advocate of either concept, but I have to admit that my weekly digital learning group is certainly a type of support system.
In the group, we committed to collectively review our three words monthly. Like most resolutions, we faltered in the monthly reviews, but we did discuss our three words several times during the year. One member clearly credits the three words with his success in achieving a long-desired goal.
The truth is that January 1 is like any other day, and January is like any other month. If you were unhappy in your job in July, you'll likely be unhappy in January, unless something changes. The beauty in each new day is the possibility of reinvention and new things happening. The phone can ring any day of the year and offer you the chance to take a leap into a new unknown. January is as good a time as any to rethink how you're going to approach making change happen. It's not magical, but it is an opportunity to consider how you can position yourself to see open doors rather than closed windows.
For me, words are powerful. Not only because I'm a writer, but because I believe words are sacred. Biblical references abound in the power of words and prayers, which can be defined as a series of words sent to the heavens. New Age forums similarly expound on the value of "thoughts becoming things" and affirmations, also words strung together to create positive thoughts. Words are how we communicate with each other, and increasingly we're shown how we might now also use words to better communicate with ourselves.
My wish for you for the new year is to find work that provides value to you and those around you. It may be a new job, a new promotion, or a reinvention of your current job. Regardless of position, may you find the words that help you move yourself forward for to achieve three words I hope become really true for you: Happy New Year.