Make It Work: 5 Career Resolutions For 2015

Generally speaking, New Year’s resolutions are bullshit. They’re entertaining cocktail party fodder at best, a way to talk to people you’ve just met over the cheese plate about how you’re definitely going to quit smoking/go to the gym/take up tantric meditation this year. They are a self-soothing practice, stated with the intent to make you feel like you’re actually going to do something different this year, that there’s something wrong with the way that you have been doing things, but now you have the chance to change. You’ll make a big stink about declaring these resolutions, and maybe even really commit yourself for the first few weeks, but almost without fail will fall back into your regular habits as soon as February hits. That’s okay. You are fine the way you are, and if you feel like you need to change, you can start anytime. The only area where you should take the opportunity to make a few New Year’s resolutions is in your career. The thing about work is that it’s something we all have to do, but we do have some control over how and where, and these resolutions are all about making the most of the situation. After all, you are an at-will employee. No one is holding you hostage at your job. But you’re there an awful lot, so do what you need to do and make it better for yourself. Make these workplace resolutions in 2015 and you will be on your way to personal and professional greatness.

1. If you hate your job, stop complaining and fix it.

Chances are, if you’re not very happy at work, your friends, your family, your pet and your roommates have heard all about it. They are smiling and nodding and texting under the table while you bitch about the stuff that you’re dealing with, and growing more and more irritated with the fact that you’re not doing anything to change the situation. So, make this your year to do something about it. Take a good look at what you don’t like about your job and figure out if it’s fixable. Are you bored by the actual work? Do you hate your boss? Do you think that your skills are better served in a different department? Do you wish that you had another career entirely? Find a solution and take action.

2. If you love your job, do it better.

Just because you love your job doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to improve it. Being happy and comfortable at work leads to complacency, and complacency is the death of success, or something. I don’t know, but it’s always good to strive for a little more. I”m not advocating that you break your neck climbing to the top of the corporate ladder, but if you are really and truly happy at your job — like, you can actually say that you love it with a straight face — then find ways to do more and better at work. If you manage other people, see how you can make their lives easier or mentor them towards their own further success and contentment. Be nice to the office manager, after all, she picks up all of your garbage and also orders the snacks that you eat for lunch sometimes. Work harder at the tasks you’re given, seek out more responsibility in the areas that you’d like to strengthen and, hell, start feeling out the potential for a promotion and/or raise. Do your best to avoid falling into that weird senior-year slump of doing a good job and not caring anymore.

3. Create a work-life balance and stick to it.

Maybe you worked more than you did anything else in 2014, and found yourself at the end of the year a miserable husk of a human being who started thinking of your cubicle as home. Maybe you are starting to grow resentful of this fact, because you’re not directly saving anyone’s life, yet you are at the office until 9 p.m. and are on call for reasons unknown. This year, take charge of your job and give yourself boundaries. Keep your work email on your phone, if you must, but don’t check it after you get home. Do not respond to emails sent on the weekend. If you’re still at work, you’re hungry, and it’s dark out and you know you should go home and feed the cat, finish up and leave. Your job will be there in the morning, and there is very little glory in being the only person left at the office. You can be a busy person and get all your things done without having to let your job consume your life.

4. If you want a raise or a promotion, ask for it.

Life is way too short to sit at your desk and not make the kind of money you definitely deserve to be making. If you haven’t had a raise in years, ask for one. The worst thing that’s going to happen is that they’ll say no, so march into your boss’s office and make a case for getting the money you deserve. Asking for more money feels terrifying, because you’re forcing yourself to look at your actual value as an employee  It’s scary, but worth it. But come prepared to explain how you’ve grown as an employee, what contributions you’ve made to your workplace’s success, and what you’re prepared to do to advance even further.

5. Bring your lunch to work every day for at least a month.

I am convinced that Seamless is both the best and the worst thing for the modern office employee. The amount of money I spend on Seamless during a busy week is horrifying, and eating yet another salad while gazing into the depths of my email for 15 minutes each day is depressing beyond comprehension. It’s fine to order lunch when you are actually so busy that getting up from your desk will stress you out even more than the work you have to do, but take advantage of the one hour you are afforded for a lunch break. Bring your lunch from home and take a brisk walk after you eat that turkey sandwich. Try it for a month. Try it for a week. Baby steps, I know. But you’ll save money, eat better and give yourself a much deserved mid-day siesta.