The PRAXIS Nexus The PRAXIS Nexus

The Resolve for Change: Your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on January 07, 2016   |   
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It’s that time of year again: the time when we make (and hopefully keep) New Year’s resolutions! On the final day of 2015, Time reported that 2016’s top new year’s resolutions are to:

  • Enjoy life to the fullest
  • Live a healthier lifestyle
  • Lose weight
  • Save more, spend less
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Pay down debt

Do any of these sound familiar?

Calendar January 1 Resolutions

These personal resolutions, while popular, are not the only considerations for many of us as we start the new calendar year. Many of us set professional resolutions that are of equal importance to us – but also equally difficult to keep. In her recent article, “Why It's So Hard To Keep Your Professional New Year's Resolutions - And How To Change That,” the Washington Post’s Jena McGregor offers several suggestions for following through on these professional declarations of change.

First, it may help to tell others about your intent. Research has shown that holding yourself accountable by not only sharing your goals with others but by reporting your progress – for example, by sending weekly updates to a supervisor or peers – helps individuals stick to their resolutions.

Second, break your goals down into manageable, realistic segments. Setting interim milestones for the completion of tasks – which also serves to break larger tasks into smaller, distinct parts – can help you to achieve your ultimate desired outcomes. McGregor notes that this is most effective when the distance to your end goal is less than clear, which is often the case in healthcare program implementation and quality improvement initiatives.

Third, McGregor offers, create a clear plan using “implementation intention.” Be specific. Outline clear times, places and very specific outcomes in your plans. Prompts such as “if/then” or “when/then” can help us to frame clear next steps. For example, “when administrative approval for the new project is given, I will schedule the Washington, DC kickoff meeting for 30 days out.”

Next, celebrate your successes, but also take time to consider the road that lies ahead and stay prepared for your next steps. Research has shown that overly optimistic thinking relates to a decrease in activity towards a goal, so striking a balance between positive and realistic thinking may better equip us for the future. Researcher Gabriele Oettingen recommends an approach called WOOP— which stands for “wish, outcome, obstacle, plan.” 

  1. Wish: Identify the goal you wish to achieve.
  2. Outcome: Document the best possible outcome.
  3. Obstacle: Pinpoint what is preventing you from achieving your ultimate goal.
  4. Plan: Use if/then statements to design your next steps, including those that help you overcome identified obstacles.

Last, leverage “temporal landmarks” – dates like birthdays and even New Year’s Day itself– to help achieve professional goals, whether it be by re-energizing a dormant goal or providing a springboard into new territory. These demarcations can help us to enter new projects or phases with a sense of natural transition.  

What are your professional resolutions for 2016? Which of these techniques might you use to propel you toward achieving those goals?


Read our other PRAXIS Nexus blog posts here.


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  • I buy a monthly calendar every year and then fail to use it in a forward-thinking way. I carry it with me but do little more than record appointments, etc. so I don't forget them. My plan this year is to put a standing weekly task that will come up in my Outlook to remind me to plan the next two weeks in the monthly calendar. Not just record dates or appointments, but plan what steps I need to take daily to achieve major goals. We will see if it works!

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