It’s here! 2023! The New Year has arrived and with it New Year’s resolutions! New Year’s resolutions are oft-maligned, but in truth, they give us all a chance to pause and start again. Although we often think of them in the context of personal goals—more yoga!, less Instagram!—it’s just as useful to leverage the change of year for our professional goals.
Why not? No matter where we are in a process, taking a moment to review and reflect is rarely time wasted. To that end, here are six wise quotes about the New Year, followed by some thoughts on applying their meanings to our professional lives.
This one suggests to me that we must get crystal clear on why we’re making a change. Are we chasing the next big fad, veering outside our lane? Or, is the work integral to who we are as an organization? Accordingly, we have to know exactly who we are as an organization and where our lanes are and are not.
When was the last time you sat back and asked, “What is it we do exactly? Why do we care, and why should anyone else? How do we do it better and differently than all the other options have?” If it’s been more than five years, best to do a review, (See our methodology for how.)
Or, as Neville Goddard once said (I’m paraphrasing liberally here), “We can drive from Boston to Los Angeles and not need to see the entire path before us.” The point here is that when embarking on big projects or initiatives, we need not know exactly where we end up. We should focus on each segment of the journey one at a time and be open to that journey as it unfolds.
For example, let’s say you’re launching a website in the New Year. Plot out all the steps required, but don’t get your heart set on how it will look until you’re closer to the end of the process. As you create content, review use cases, and determine capabilities, a lot can change.
We all make mistakes. We all have bad experiences. Just because something unfolded one way in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean it will do so again. Our world changes at a sometimes maddening pace. All that change can impact any- and everything.
Perhaps you worked with a colleague on a project in the past who was uncooperative, obstructive, or just unpleasant. Don’t assume that they will be that way when a new project starts. Even if they are, take solace in the fact that you’re ready for them now! If you can’t change them, change how you react to them.
Chances are that when working on a big project or initiative, teams will run out of steam. Everything is much more exciting in the beginning. The key here is to plan ahead for those downturns and find ways to re-energize people.
If a year-long project awaits you, set up specific milestones to celebrate the progress, even if it’s not the progress you had imagined. Reiterate why the work is so important. Find ways to get the team re-engaged, committed, and jazzed. Don’t rely solely on the excitement that kicked it all off to carry you through to the end.
Western culture, in particular, is terrible with failure. Perseverance, focus, and resolve are almost hard-wired into how we think and work. Whereas most of the time, those traits are invaluable, once in a while, a situation requires a full stop. In those situations, what’s important is not what we didn’t accomplish but what we learned!
Let’s say that there is a long-running project into which you have invested considerable time, energy, and reputational capital. However, it’s just not getting the traction you had hoped. If you cannot find a way to reframe it, shut it down and begin again. Just make certain you garner as much learning from the situation as possible.
Routines have their place. That statement is debatable. Granted, the efficiencies of repetition are undeniable, but if the routines entrench themselves into our work like the roots of a crabtree, that spells disaster. “That’s the way we have always done it,” may sound like a cliche, but the danger is real.
Just like people, organizations must evolve. Find ways to respect and remember it, but embrace the future! Celebrate it! Do not fear change.
Want one more quote? Here you go: