Skip to main content

Every new year, people excitedly set New Year’s resolutions and career goals, big or small. And every year, by mid-February, 80 per cent of people who set resolutions have given up on trying to meet their goals.

Over the last few years, Strava, a mobile app and website for tracking exercise, has been using data to predict when people are mostly likely to give up on their resolution, and they see a drop off even sooner, around mid-January.

Shirin Khamisa, the founder of career-services company Careers by Design, sees an uptick in business in the first three months of the year when people are most eager to make a change.

Most commonly, she says, people looking to change industries find purpose in their work, or build specific skills such as networking or public speaking.

Even though the statistics for achieving these goals can be sobering and demotivating, Ms. Khamisa says there are ideas you can adopt to help you stay on track or recommit and achieve your goals.

1. Lean into self-compassion to foster a growth mindset

A growth mindset means you believe you can develop your talents through hard work, good strategies and input from others.

“Oftentimes, when we fail we feel quite frustrated with ourselves ... That’s not really very effective in making change,” she says.

So, Ms. Khamisa says to be kind to yourself, and try to observe yourself in a neutral way. This allows you to understand why you failed so that you can make a plan to get back on track.

“When we set a goal, we’re challenging ourselves and we need to realize that it’s okay to fail when we challenge ourselves. Love is both challenging yourself toward growth, and it’s supporting yourself when you get off track,” she says.

2. Understand how change works – and how it’s linked to your emotions

Ms. Khamisa often shares the statement “feel better, do better, and move forward faster” with clients. She says that positive change involves emotions such as inspiration, love and gratitude. Yet, when people aren’t meeting their goals, they are typically feeling doubt, fear and anxiety.

She compares this state of being to trying to hold a beach ball underwater while you’re in the ocean. When your focus is on holding down – or onto – negative emotions, you’re using a ton of energy that could be used toward your goals.

“I think it’s important when people are thinking about change, to remember that it’s our thoughts and feelings that produce our result,” she says.

“If you’re not getting the results that you need, then it’s important to ask yourself … ‘How am I doing?’” she says, adding that it’s no easy feat when we live in such busy and complex times.

3. Set up a support system

“When we’re growing, we’re getting bigger and expanding – that’s when we need support the most,” Ms. Khamisa says. Feeling supported has been extra challenging during the pandemic because people are feeling more isolated than ever. However, you can take the first step by identifying how you would like to be supported in achieving your goals.

“We’re all different. For some people, it might be joining a Facebook group or a coaching community, while others benefit most from one-on-one [support],” she says.

You can also consider working with a mentor if you have a clear goal, or a professional coach – or enlisting an accountability buddy who is also working on career goals so you can help each other move forward and generate solutions to roadblocks.

What I’m reading around the web

  • Do you ever get the feeling that you never really get to clock out? In an ultra-connected world, many people are still pointing a finger at smartphones. This article in The Atlantic says it isn’t your iPhone that is “ruining your life” but laptops.
  • According to HBR, the mid-career crisis phenomenon is under-researched, and it’s hurting employees and employers. See the latest insights to better understand what’s happening to people during this time, who it has an impact on, and what you can do to beat mid-career malaise.
  • One way people have been able to make an impact over the last few years was by volunteering through nonprofits – and the efforts have been key to uplifting our communities. Yet, many nonprofits are working with less funding and less volunteers. Here’s how corporate tax reform may be the catalyst to a resurgence of volunteerism, from CBC.
  • Many companies are planning for some type of hybrid working environment or already have one in place. While it provides flexibility for workers, this BBC article says it can also spell trouble for those who choose to work from home when it comes to workload and promotions.

This is the weekly Careers newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you, you can sign up for Globe Careers and all Globe newsletters here.

Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

Interact with The Globe