Now that we’re in 2024, it's a good moment to reflect on the past, learn from our experiences, and gear up for a fresh start. The beginning of a new year signifies more than just a change in date; it's a chance to reevaluate our goals, skills, and overall approach to life and work. In this blog, we present five actionable tips to guide you in coming back strong in the New Year. From setting clear and measurable goals to enhancing your work/life balance, these strategies are designed to help you not only meet your objectives but also foster personal and professional growth. Embrace the opportunity to recalibrate, adapt, and thrive in the year ahead.
1. Establish your major goals for the year
It’s important to establish your major goals for the year, and be able to clearly define what they are. They also need to be measurable, so you can track and manage your progress. Goals spur you to action. If you have a vague goal, like ‘gain more customers’, you’re going to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. But if your goal is ‘gain two new customers every month’, then you can immediately go about achieving that goal, and you already probably have actionable steps in mind. Making progress towards your goal, the thrill of achieving the goal becomes more apparent. When you see that you’re twenty, thirty, forty percent of the way to your goal, you’re much more likely to keep going until you hit one hundred.
Goals also help you see your strengths and weaknesses, because as you progress you will notice what’s helping you progress and where you’re falling short. Once you have a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, you can make actionable improvements.
2. Evaluate your skills
This might be hard, but self-reflection is crucial for improvement. You will have some strong skills already, and it’s easy to recognise what they are, but analysing your weaknesses is a bit trickier. Are there tasks you really struggle with? Are there areas of your work that you avoid, maybe without even realising it?
You should also reevaluate the requirements of your job role. If you’ve been in a role for a while, you tend to settle into your own way of doing things. This can be dangerous in the long run, because you may drift away from certain responsibilities that the role requires of you, without even realising it.
Take stock of your hard and soft skills. Hard skills are usually technical and specific to certain roles, whereas soft skills can be used in every role. For example, proficiency in python coding is a hard skill that you can only use in the realm of IT, whereas conflict resolution is a soft skill that you can use in any team setting in any industry.
3. What went wrong in the previous year? What went right?
What were your previous year’s goals? How close did you come to achieving them? Where did you err?
Goal setting is incredibly conducive to fostering positive mental health. When you have goals to work towards, you can feel more secure about your future, because you know what to expect. Even if you fail to achieve your goals, having them is better than not having them because at least you know what you’re aiming at. For example, if your goal was to gain 10 new clients and you only gained 8 (which technically was a failure), it’s still vastly better than having no goal at all and gaining no new clients!
4. What micro-habits can you practice to be more effective?
It’s the little habits that ultimately count.
Emphasising consistency, they encourage regularity and routine, essential for forming lasting habits. These habits contribute to a positive mindset shift, as they focus on small victories, instilling confidence and motivation for tackling more significant challenges. By breaking down larger goals into smaller, more achievable steps, micro habits become less intimidating, promoting a sense of accomplishment and progress. As these habits become automatic, they free up mental energy for other tasks and challenges.
For example, if you’re struggling to concentrate, maybe you need to take short breaks every hour. Maybe you need to hydrate more often throughout the day, or practice communication with your team to better tackle tasks. If you struggle with replying to emails, you could dedicate the first five minutes of each day to responding to emails. Pretty soon, you’ll be booting up your computer and smashing through emails in no time.
“Sometimes our habits have become so automatic we don't recognize them as habits. Build on what already works for you. Where do you have room for improvement?” – Alice Boyes Ph.D., Psychology Today
5. How can you improve your work/life balance?
Work/life balance become a foremost issue during the Covid pandemic, when a lot of people took stock of their current situations and decided they wanted a more positive balance. More of an emphasis was put on physical exercise, mental health, leisure, adventure and fun. People wanted more from their personal lives, and they believed it would help them perform better at work too.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “…for people to make real changes in their lives, they must continuously remember to pause, connect with their emotions, rethink their priorities, evaluate alternatives, and implement changes — throughout their personal and professional lives.”
Burnout is a constant threat for workers, and much of the reason work/life balance is becoming so prioritised is because workers need an outlet from the stress of their daily work. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage burnout, such as taking periodic breaks, especially when you start to notice that your getting worn out. Travel, recreational activities, or simple rest and relaxation are all tried and true methods for charging up your battery. You can also switch up your diet, try different exercise routines, switch up your travel route – anything to break your usual routine and rejuvenate your day.