The Manifesto of the Passionate, Creative Worker
Learning from Experience: Soha El Borno Goes Freelance

Career Resolutions as a Key to Career Thriving

A few weeks ago I read Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project, which chronicles Gretchen's year of personal experiments to increase her happiness--her version of the 30-Day trial! .

One section on goals vs. resolutions really struck a chord with me. This is what she writes on her blog about it: 

You hit a goal, you achieve a goal. You keep a resolution.

I think that some objectives are better characterized as resolutions, others, as goals.

“Run in a marathon” or “Become fluent in Spanish” is a good goal. It’s specific. It’s easy to tell when it has been achieved. Once you’ve done it, you’ve done it!

“Eat more vegetables” or “Stop gossiping,” or “Exercise” is better cast as a resolution. You won’t wake up one morning and find that you’ve achieved it. It’s something that you have to resolve to do, every day, forever. You’ll never be done with it.

. . . it can be easy to get discouraged when you’re trying to hit a goal. What if it takes longer than you expected? What if it’s harder than you expected? And what happens once you’ve reached your goal? Say you’ve run the marathon. What now – do you stop exercising? Do you set a new goal?

With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day, I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don’t get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do. 


This idea of goals vs. resolutions really resonated for me in regard to the work we do in our careers because I think that ongoing professional development is largely about keeping resolutions. While having goals can be helpful, they also require us to have some sense of the destination--where it is we want to end up. 

But so many of us work in a world where the destination is often unclear, or we are in the midst of transition, so we are working on direction, not destination. In those cases, resolutions seem far more appropriate for what we want to do. They are a way to keep moving forward, to keep developing. 

Career resolutions are really the habits we create for ourselves that we do on a regular basis. How do we spend that first hour of work? What rituals have we created for ourselves daily, weekly, monthly? 

Goals give us a sense of destination, while resolutions are the habits that can take us there. And even when our goals feel unclear, we can still keep our resolutions as a strategy for continuing to develop even if we feel stuck or lost. 

What do you think of this idea of career resolutions vs. career goals? Does the concept of career resolutions resonate for you? 


Do you have a creative dream you want to bring to fruition? Join me on November 9-11 for the Dream It/Do It Retreat--two days of solid dreaming and work time to move your career or creative project forward. You'll be surrounded by a supportive group of kindred spirits, plus great food and access to a fully-stocked art studio!



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