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Everyone loves New Year’s, and it’s not just for the parties. It’s a chance to set goals for the month ahead and think about all those positive changes you’ve been meaning to make. It’s a time for hope and renewal — for reinvigorating yourself — but sometimes, it leads to disappointment.

To help you avoid a 2016 letdown, U.S. News & World Reports writer Hannah Morgan has put together a terrific post called “Career-Boosting Resolutions to Make Right Now.” She begins by advising people to “know why resolutions fail,” since understanding proper goal-setting techniques is the key to establishing benchmarks you can actually hit.

As Morgan writes, you should swap giant overarching yearly goals for more attainable weekly ones and “focus on outcomes you can control.” Say you really want a new job in 2016 — smart resolutions involve things you can do to increase your chances of getting hired. It also helps to find what Morgan calls an “accountability partner” — someone to keep you on task — and to always avoid negative goals. You may despise your current job, but make your resolution something like “begin researching new opportunities,” not “I gotta get outta here.”

Next, Morgan turns to specific types of job-released resolutions. The first: making more money. If you’re hoping for a raise next year, Morgan says, you should begin by researching your company’s history of granting pay bumps. You want to find out how often raises come and how much of an increase is realistic. Then, you’ll need to make the case for why you deserve more cash. Bring testimonials from co-workers and clients and try to quantify the benefits you’ve brought to the company. If you can show you’re making/saving the team money, you’re well on your way.

Morgan then turns to the similar topic of promotions. If you’re looking to move up the ladder in 2016, start by determining what skills and qualifications you lack and figuring out how to get them. After that, schedule a meeting with your supervisor and talk about your ambitions. As with raises, you’ll need to make the case for why you deserve more responsibilities and a better title. Even if your boss shoots you down, you can resolve to jump ship and follow your action plan someplace else.

Speaking of quitting, if finding greener pastures is your 2016 goal, make sure you set crystal-clear expectations regarding the type of new gig you’re looking for. Once you have an idea of the ideal situation, don’t wait for job postings that match. Pinpoint companies you’d like to work for and reach out to your network of contacts to seek out referrals and learn about other opportunities you might have missed.

Lastly, Morgan looks at the idea of happiness. If you’re simply hoping to enjoy more balance in your life this coming year, begin by asking yourself what balance means. Do you want to work fewer weekends or not check email after 8 p.m.? Once you know what’s optimal — and what’s feasible — you can start taking steps toward what Morgan calls “workplace zen.”


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