The Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone, Christmas presents have been opened and exchanged (thanks for thinking I’m a size XS, Mom!), and the new year is well underway. But it’s not too late to resolve to make the most out of your work life this year.
Before you roll your eyes, at least skim the post. I’m willing to bet that you can put at least one of these small changes into practice for a successful new year.
After taking stock of last year, its highest highs and lowest lows, here are the five workplace promises I’m making to myself—publicly. Join me and we’ll keep each other honest.
1. Don’t let past success be the plan for the future.
That phrase about insanity and doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results applies here. When looking at last year’s work and figuring out how to increase traffic, impressions or whatever your KPI may be, don’t just rinse and repeat.
As we saw in last year, algorithms change (looking at you, Facebook and Google) and so does technology, so there are no guarantees that what worked last year will work in the future. Plus, brainstorming ways to solve a problem versus how to execute the same campaign but a little bit better, elicits stronger, fresher and more creative ideas.
2. Get out of your own way.
There’s a long list of ways you may be holding yourself back without realizing it. (Ask me how I know.) Have you ever sat silent in a brainstorm because you were afraid your ideas wouldn’t be good enough?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever given up on a thought because you figure it would be over budget or need more resources than are available. And how many of us are doing work that should be delegated because it’s faster to DIY than explain how to do it? I’m guilty on all three.
Let’s resolve to cut the crap and step aside to let ourselves contribute, be heard and be brilliant this year.
3. Define the problem, not the solution.
As an employee wanting to do the right thing, it can be wildly frustrating to be told what to do without understanding the why, i.e., the problem to be solved, because your boss/client/the person calling the shots predetermined the answer for you.
On the flip side, if you’re in charge and telling people how you want the problem solved, you’ll likely be disappointed in the limited thinking that went into the solution.
It’s like briefing a team about a green car and then getting back ideas for a lime-green car, an army-green car and an olive-green car—when the problem was simply that consumers needed a way to get from point A to point B.
4. Put on your PR pants.
Ever feel like the super awesome work that you’re doing isn’t being recognized by your boss, co-workers or client? Given everyone’s miles-long to-do lists, meetings and inboxes, that’s not surprising.
So then the question is, what can you do to make people take notice? From hanging flyers on the bathroom mirror, to handing out samples of what we just wrote about to sending animated gif-filled recap emails, I’m resolving to find fun and creative ways to share my team’s work.
5. Get more sleep.
No really, we all need more sleep. According to a talk broadcast on MPR by neuroscientist Matthew Walker, the lack of sleep we’re facing is making us sick, fat and dumb.
In a creative field where sacrificing sleep for the development and execution of great ideas is so common it’s a point of pride, we need to take heed of the eight full hours per night guideline. And if not for our health, for creativity’s sake.
Walker goes on to share that during REM sleep, the brain takes everything it’s learned, collides it with our back catalog of information and then starts to seek out novel connections and associations. That’s why after a good night’s sleep we often wake up with a critical insight to a difficult problem—and where the phrase ‘sleep on it’ comes from.
Which is my final, and most important resolution for this year: sleep on it.
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