Why You Should Start Working on Your New Year’s Career Resolutions Now

You can craft your New Year’s resolutions through the haze of a champagne hangover. But if procrastination is one habit you’re trying to break, there’s no time like the present to start cobbling together a career improvement list.

Why start early? Well for starters, the odds are not in your favor. A mere 9 percent of people feel they were successful in achieving their resolutions in 2016 according to a survey compiled by Statistic Brain. But this lack of resolve could be the result of a failure to plan.

Make your job search your top New Years resolution

Potentially life-changing resolutions should not be something you come up with on the fly, in a besotted state, as you warble verses of “Auld Lang Syne.” They should be a byproduct of sober reflection after taking stock of your strengths and weaknesses.

Take Charge

Whether you feel content at work or trapped in a career-rut, professional development can be a year-round process. Get a head start on career-related goals—and maybe a promotion or dream job—with these steps.

Make your career resolutions specific, realistic and trackable. If you want a mentor, a raise or a new job, spell out the steps needed to achieve that goal. Give yourself deadlines. Hold yourself accountable.

Pursue Upskilling

Top employees learn new skills on their own time. Follow the lead of these self-motivated learners coveted by employers. Build your skillset to boost your bottom line. The top skills employers want employees to improve upon include communication and leadership. Emotional intelligence—the capacity to say, understand your effect on others and manage yourself and others accordingly—will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020, according to a report.

People with higher levels of emotional intelligence function well under pressure, possess better coping tactics and support systems, are empathetic, open to feedback and listen well. That’s a combination that will keep you in demand. And, don’t forget to work on your soft skills, which include teamwork, flexibility and creativity. Deepen existing job skills and learn new ones by attending webinars, workshops and conferences or enrolling in a course.

Update Your Resume And LinkedIn

You don’t need to be in the job market to keep your credentials up-to-date. A study by the Society for Human Resources Management found 84 percent of organizations currently recruit via social media and most are passive candidates. Refresh your LinkedIn headline since that is what someone sees right away while visiting your page or search results. Also update your summary, skills and awards.

Grow Your Network

It’s important to reach out and build your professional relationships. Your connections can lead to amazing opportunities that include important contacts, mentors and sponsors, career advice and job openings. Remember, networking is not one-sided. Make sure you provide value, too.

Research Industry Trends

It’s critical to be aware of emerging trends in your career field. Whether it’s subscribing to industry newsletters and blogs, attending webinars or following thought leaders on social media, stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your industry. Your knowledge about these developments and changes can set you apart and increase your credibility and value as an employee. Make it a habit to read daily to keep up with trends.

Get An Accountability Partner

Select a partner who encourages and challenges you. Your partner should be comfortable giving you valuable feedback. Set clear goals and regularly scheduled meetings or check-ins to keep each other on task and honest. A 2015 study from researchers at Dominican University of California measured the impact of accountability on goal achievement. More than seven out of 10 study participants who sent weekly updates to a friend either achieved their goal or were more than halfway there, compared to 35 percent of the students who kept their goals to themselves.

A Daily Reminder

In addition to these strategies, get ready for 2018 by using this acrostic to remind yourself of proactive steps to guide your career resolutions.

Halt bad habits at work.

Adjust your attitude.

Pick realistic professional goals.

Push yourself to achieve career milestones. 

Yearn for progress.


Note techniques to improve productivity.

Evaluate your wins and slips.

Welcome constructive feedback and advice.


Yield to whim.

Envision success.

Anticipate setbacks—regroup and resume.

Recognize and reward your achievements.

A real celebration

Don’t wait to work on approaches to be more successful at work. By kick-starting your resolutions now, you get a jump on making 2018 the year of career growth and happiness.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market