A Real Resolution

Calendar from 12-31 to 1-1

People often make New Year’s Resolutions — personal goals to remake themselves. Most often these involve quitting smoking (as I did 30+ years ago) or losing weight (as I need to) or other self-improvement goals. But they almost never involve their work life. I’m here to beseech you otherwise.

This seems like the best possible time for me to stress the importance of taking stock of your work life and to prod you to fix what is broken. This is an exercise that most of us never do, and the arbitrary ticking of the calendar is as good a time as any to prompt you to do so.

Most of us who work in organizations recognize what is wrong: we roll our eyes as the same silly mistakes get made year in and year out, we chuckle knowingly at every Dilbert cartoon wondering how Scott Adams was in our last staff meeting, and we marvel that the same idiots continue to ply their trade without being called to account. Yet who is the bigger fool, those who continue the folly or those who participate time and again and expect a different outcome?

Who is the bigger fool, those who continue the folly or those who participate time and again and expect a different outcome?

I can’t begin to imagine what is wrong in your work situation, but unless you are very lucky, something is broken. Perhaps the problem is a lousy boss. Or a terrible co-worker. Or a failing project. Or just a job you hate. Now is a great time to deal with the problem.

Here are some suggestions on concrete actions you can take:

  • Speak up when someone behaves inappropriately
  • Personally take on a failing part of the project
  • Call attention to things that are broken
  • Challenge stupidity in all its forms
  • Never contribute less than your personal best
  • Get another job

These are hard. They take personal strength. Some require almost heroic effort. All require resolve (hence the term: resolution). But they can all make a distinct difference.

Life is too short to hate what you do, or to settle for second best. Take the opportunity of a new year to fix what’s broken in your world. Don’t let another year go by in a situation you will regret. What’s the point of quitting smoking if all it does is have you live longer in a job you hate?