Forget Resolutions, Fuel Your Career Intentions for 2021 Instead

Close up of woman's hand writing in notebook

It’s a safe bet that many of us are looking forward to ringing in a new year after the one we’ve had. But one part of New Year’s traditions we should all skip? Giving in to the onslaught of emails, articles and Instagram accounts pressuring us to commit to life-changing resolutions.

After all, there’s real science that explains why 90% of our resolutions don’t work. First, we sabotage ourselves by setting enormous and unclear goals (see: Lose weight! Start running! KonMari the whole house! Get a job I love!). And second, while we are trying to overhaul our lives and move forward, we are too often still stuck in our old stories.

With science on my side, I gave up resolutions long ago. Instead, I practice two powerful New Year’s rituals to reset my practices and reinvigorate my thinking. First, I set intentions for the year to help create the new story of how I am growing. I ring out those bad old messages, and celebrate my best self showing up over and over again. Second, I create simple, small tasks to practice those intentions. 

Research shows that it helps to build on habits we already have (think: adding ten minutes to one workout a week that you already do, rather than swearing to exercise daily all year long), so I think of this as adding Lego blocks to the already glorious castle that is me. 

What might happen if you, a whip-smart and wonderful woman, chose to cancel resolutions and all the crap thinking that goes along with them, and instead set some intentions (with totally doable to-dos) about finding, keeping and growing your career in 2021? Good things, we bet.

If your intention is to expand your circle of career support

Join the RALLY Program. Fueled by The Mom Project, RALLY was created for moms (and mom advocates) to connect with other community members one-on-one to meet, teach, learn and grow.  All you have to do is apply, and you will be matched with another person as a way to share your expertise and soak up another professional’s insights. 

Simple-practice suggestion: Swap out one social-media scrolling session a week to connect with another mom by text, email or video chat (I love the Marco Polo app for quick and personal back-and-forth conversations at your convenience). 

If your intention is to secure a job that is a great fit for your specific brilliance

Your resume may need some polish in order to show off how much you really shine. Get started with the 5 Day Resume Challenge, which provides measured steps to upgrade your document and share how you can be of service to a new organization or in a promotion.

Simple-practice suggestion: Before you get bogged down and distracted by the 98 emails in your inbox every morning, take ten minutes to complete your 5 Day Resume Challenge task (also waiting in your inbox). Once your resume is up and running, you can build on that ten minutes by spending a bit more time sending it out in applications or to your growing network of women.

If your intention is to build your own beautiful, personal brand

If you want to align your Instagram presence, portfolio website and business cards, there’s no need to task yourself with doing agency-level brand-building. Read our expert guidance on amplifying who you (uniquely) are and what you (specifically) do so others (hello, employers) take notice. Or, press play on this informative and inspiring Unity Hour dedicated to your personal brand.

Simple-practice suggestion: Choose an easy activity that feels fun or soothing to develop your brand:

If you are artsy, create a vision board or digital color palette kit.

If you are a natural investigator, research influencers and companies with branding that speaks to you and create a bullet-point list of best practices.

If you are methodic, whip up a spreadsheet of all the places you’d like your brand to be present, then outline an easy schedule of five-minute practices to add your aesthetic to those places.

If you are musical, make a playlist that represents how your personal brand feels.

If your intention is to do all of the career success things

Perhaps your list of challenges is long, your ambitions are big, and your energy and time are pandemic-level low (this is all of us, right?). If you aren’t sure where to start, or feel paralysis setting in, know that there is a simple map forward that requires only that you visit The Study. The Study offers empowering and practical information on topics from smart maternity and childcare planning, to savvy answers to the toughest interview questions, to wisely negotiating that next big job offer. Even better? You can add lifelong learner to your resume and curiosity to your personal branding. 

Simple-practice suggestion: Bundle your reading with the time you’re on the spin bike, sitting with a napping baby, or waiting for dinner delivery to arrive. One article at a time, snuck into those brief daily down times. 

Forget all the “New Year, New You!” mania. After 2020’s many momentous challenges, we can use these good intentions plus simple practices to turn the calendar toward “Big Year, Best Us”. 

Jessica Ashley is a writer, content strategist, and coach whose life’s work (paid, unpaid, and in endless school board meetings) is focused on empowering women through tough transitions with creativity, grace and maybe some cussing.

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