5 Reasons Career Resolutions Fail and What To Do Instead

new years career goals

One thing about this time of year is that our thoughts (and articles) turn to “New Years Resolutions.”

With that, comes the Grinch that disparages the goal setting for a whole list of fairly lame reasons. Topping the list is: “In 2 months everyone loses the will to continue or I don’t need them, I’m a self-driven person.”

I hope that isn’t you but if you border on a goal-setting bad attitude, I think there might be some things for you to consider. Most people approach goal-setting (which is really what a New Years Resolution really is) so poorly that they are destined to fail.

Let’s look at ways you can succeed with goals:

Don’t just take a goal because you think you “should”.

If you aren’t 110% excited or driven to do something – you won’t. Consider giving yourself permission to skip your whole list of “should”. Now, doesn’t that feel better? Seriously, if you aren’t emotionally attached to an outcome, you will not stay the course. Why derail before you start?

Get help to stay accountable.

I won’t go into the long list of studies but people with very big brains know that only about 20% of us will actually keep the focus to accomplish our goals on our own. That means you have to have someone keep you accountable. There are whole careers based on that knowledge and that’s why you see personal trainers and coaches on every endeavor you can think of. We need help and it shows strength, not weakness, to seek the support you need to meet your lofty dreams.

Make your goals specific.

Another flaw often seen with goals is they aren’t specific enough to actually be hit. It’s like saying you want to be healthy so you’re going to start working out. What does that mean? How will you know when you’ve hit your goal? It’s easy to lose focus when what you’re focusing on is fuzzy to begin with. A way to know if your goal is specific enough is to ask yourself the following questions:

    1. What will be different?
    2. How will I know?
    3. Can I measure the result? Or observe the result?
    4. When do I need to see a result?

What’s your #1 BIG thing?

Said another way, if you take on too many goals you will bog yourself down with overwhelm. It’s better for you to identify 1 or 2 career goals for next year that will get your time and attention. The opposite of the goal Grinch is the over achiever that thinks they need to take on the world with pages of goals and barely hit a thing.

Your perspective is everything.

Your career is like running a marathon. It’s a long game with goals to accomplish at all times. If you have no goals, nothing to be striving for, you will soon pay the price in countless ways. You will have very little growth, small pay increases, few promotions and no recognition. That type of condition will eat away your self-worth and that isn’t how you want to live. If not a goal, then what?

Your career goals can be the single biggest factor to your success – as long as you make them the tool they can be. Now, go out there and do great things in the coming New Year!

About the Author

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran helps people accelerate their career in order for them to achieve their potential. She has a unique perspective and deep knowledge of career development forged by 21 years in management at Intel Corporation and 7 years as a Leadership Coach. She has developed people to become impressive leaders internationally. You can find more of Dorothy’s wisdom at: