15 Simple Resolutions to Improve Your Professional Life in January

January. The month of resolutions, words of intentions, intense gym sessions, and, for me, failed attempts at emptying the house of sugar (minus my dog, Sugar). Instead of putting the pressure on at the very start of the year to be a whole new person or break the old habits instantly, I thought, let’s focus on ending the last 15 days of January on a good note.

Apartment Therapy listed 31 simple resolutions to improve your life in January. That inspired me to write a list of my own (occasionally borrowing from theirs). The end result are these 15 mini-professional resolutions for the New Year.

15 Mini-Professional January Resolutions

15. Send a Thank You letter to a coworker, boss, or mentor

Nothing makes you stand out more these days than a handwritten card. Start the New Year off with good vibes by sending a written Thank You note to someone at work who deserves it.

One time, my boss gave me a handwritten Thank You card. In it, she recognized how hard I worked on a project even though it wasn’t my top pick. It made a big impact on me, and I felt like I could turn to her more in times of struggle or in my professional development.

14. Write to someone you admire professionally

I got this idea from David Perell. He had the idea of writing an in-depth article about a professional you admire. He suggested researching them, looking at their work history, and publish the piece as a way of showing that he was interested in their field of work while learning more in the process.

I think this is a cool idea, and I want to try it out with someone like Cathy Hackl or Helen Papagiannis. If writing 15,000 (or 500) seems like too much, reach out to a professional you admire on LinkedIn instead.

13. Call an old coworker you no longer work with

When I started at Atos, I flew out to Seattle for the first time with my new coworker, Joel. I was the business analyst, and he was the developer. We were put on all the MES projects together. Soon, two other developers joined our new-to-consulting-but-soon-to-dominate MES group, Karthik and Camille.

Since we were all new to Seattle, we would go hiking together, explore downtown Seattle (hello Pike’s Place and Space Needle), and try new restaurants.

Eventually, we all left the company as we climbed in our careers. Still, every once in a while, we call each other (on the phone, I know!) to catch up on life. I recommend it. You never know when you might want to work with an old coworker again.

12. Set a year-long reading goal

Is there a professional journal or magazine you’d like to subscribe to? Maybe there is a set of books in your industry that are must-reads?

Make a list of books that you’d like to read this year. I started a public list on Amazon. Try doing the same and books as you come across them.

11. Change one part of your daily work routine

Do you usually check your email first thing? Try putting it off until noon. Do you sit at your desk during lunch? Try going out with friends or taking a walk around the office.

I’m from Michigan, so I know taking walks every day at lunch is just not feasible during the winter. I did laps around the inside of my office during lunch, walking the halls; I made a figure eight going up and down the stairs.

10. Introduce yourself to someone you haven’t met before at work

My friend’s work recently switched to rolling desks and an open floor plan. No longer assigned to a specific seat, my friend has the opportunity to sit next to someone new each day. Try introducing yourself officially to that person you pass in the hallway, or maybe you see a new employee, say “hello”!

9. Clean out your desk

A messy desk might mean you’re a creative thinker, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all have that one drawer that could be cleaned out or that area behind the computer that could be dusted. Take 10 minutes to clean and re-organize a drawer or toss old papers and wipe down the surface (especially if you eat lunch at your desk).

8. Make a professional bucket list for the year

Is there a project you want to work do? A specific team you want to work with? Maybe you want to try working with a different department. Put the list somewhere you’ll see it, and mark items off as you accomplish them.

7. Clean out your entire inbox

I know, productivity experts say to ignore email. Set rules for emails to go to certain folders and only click on ones that lead to more productivity. Think of the benefits of an empty inbox. It’s a clean slate, and what’s more productive than being able to start fresh?

6. Set year-long calendar reminders

Olivia Muenter from Apartment Therapy suggests that you go through your calendar and mark down important dates and reminders. Coworkers’ and friends’ birthdays, work anniversaries, and project due dates. Set reminders when you’d like to achieve items on your professional bucket list.

5. Write down three good things at the end of the workday

It’s easy to get bogged down in work stress and drama. Try jotting down three good things that happened at work each day. It can be surprising what a mindset difference it can make.

4. Review your paycheck

When was the last time you looked at your pay stub? Review how much you’re contributing to your 401k and see if you can contribute a percent or two more.

3. Stop working with your phone out

Try putting your phone on silent or keep it in a desk drawer. If you need it for work, set your phone up so that if your phone is on Do Not Disturb, only certain contacts make it through. I read in Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology, in one study, participants’ anxiety rose and slept worse even being next to a fake phone.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

2. Try a standing desk

Sitting kills. That’s what the studies say. Try standing at your desk instead of sitting. If you don’t have a standing desk, set your phone to remind yourself to take standing breaks.

1. Deep clean your phone

Take deep cleaning to your phone. Delete apps you no longer use. Try a page out of Cal Newport’s book and delete all social media apps off your phone for 30 days (or one).

Did you know your phone is ten times dirtier than a toilet seat? Invest in an UV-C phone cleaner like PhoneSoap. I got one for Christmas and it makes me feel better to know my phone and case are a little cleaner each day.

Featured Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

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2 responses to “15 Simple Resolutions to Improve Your Professional Life in January”

  1. Very helpful suggestions here, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! Happy New Year!


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