Whether you saw 2016 as a time to celebrate or an enormous dumpster fire, there’s something thrilling about the prospect of a new year. It’s a clean slate. Twelve months stretch ahead, full of promise.
So while you’re making your list of resolutions that you’ll take with you into January, it’s also a good time to think about what you should leave behind. To give yourself the best chance of reaching your goals and realizing your resolutions, leave these mistakes behind when the clock strikes midnight.
Yes, you’re good at your job. Yes, you’re a stickler for details. But you can’t do it all—and choosing not to delegate is only going to hold you back, says productivity expert and technologist Matthew Canning, author of Get It Together: Five Simple Strategies for Becoming Reliable, Saving Time, and Making Fewer Mistakes. Holding on to too much is just going to cause burnout and ensure that you’re not using your time on more high-level tasks and projects.
“I often see people learn their lesson and eventually hire and delegate, finally understanding that they can’t manage every aspect of a business successfully. But it usually happens after burning through tons of money and resources and time,” Canning says.
It’s time for many to recalibrate how we speak to and treat each other, says psychiatrist Gail Saltz, MD, author of Becoming Real: Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back. While “telling it like it is” became a catchphrase in 2016, Saltz says it’s time for many to familiarize ourselves with the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.
“I’d love to see people leave behind being bullying and cruel and polarizing to each other. We may disagree, but we have to find ways to agree to disagree, and to still think of the more important greater good,” she says. Instead, work on finding common ground and healthy ways to disagree.
There’s no blue ribbon for giving up your vacation time or working through your anniversary dinner. Leadership coach Tracy Spears, author of What Exceptional Leaders Know: High Impact Skills, Strategies & Ideas for Leaders, often counsels clients about the reasons they have to recharge their batteries through vacation, downtime, and unplugging from technology.
If you don’t take time out, you’re not going to be able to sustain high performance, she says. “We see a lot of turnover at CEO level and at some of the C-suite levels because people aren’t recovering, they aren’t taking that time to regenerate,” she says. So start planning some time for yourself in the new year.
Saltz says that we’re more apt to achieve big goals if they’re structured as a series of small ones. “People have a tendency to go, ‘I’m going to revolutionize my life this year.’ [That’s] very unwieldy and undefined—and actually usually lasts for a week and then you’re done,” she says. Instead of shooting for the moon, take concrete, specific steps that will get you where you want to go. And celebrate those achievements to keep you motivated along the way.
Much of the reason we hold ourselves back isn’t lack of will, talent, or ability—it’s lack of follow-through, says Canning. We become disorganized or run out of time to take the steps necessary to realize our goals.
“You can get incredibly lucky or you can be very well connected. But for most people, it comes down to refining your intentions, getting incredibly organized, and setting up some sort of framework for consequences in the event of failure,” he says. Lean on your network to keep yourself accountable and ensure you’ll follow through on the things that you say you’re going to do.
It’s easy to fall into the role of firefighter, tending to the most urgent needs and tasks during the course of the day. However, if you’re ignoring your high performers or your own personal development because you’re spending too much time tending to lower-performing employees who need help or a greater degree of management, you could be missing an important opportunity for retention, development, and greater productivity, Spears says.
“That’s irresponsible to the high performers. If you can spend more time there and create a little bit more connection with those employees to keep those people from leaving, that’s a really good investment of your time,” she says. And that goes for you, personally, as well. Spend some time tending to your own career and personal development needs, she says. Everyone in the organization will be better off for it.
Just as it’s important to stay in tune with your need for downtime, it’s also important to recognize and deal with anxiety when it rears its head, Saltz says. “A lot of people have felt that 2016 has been a rough year in terms of high anxiety,” she says. Insecurities and disagreements can promote anxiety. When people feel a great deal of discord or don’t feel in control, those types of things promote anxiety too, she says.
Get in touch with soothing techniques to make yourself feel better. From using websites and apps like Headspace and Calm, to exercise or sessions with a therapist, come up with an anxiety management plan to help you feel better and be more clearheaded, she says.
One of the best things you can leave behind is the power of that negative voice in your head telling you what you can’t do, Spears says. Get over your self-limiting beliefs and reinforce your understanding of where your strengths lie. “You can get there with a 360-degree review, and bringing in someone and being vulnerable and saying, ‘How can I get better?’”
It’s not always easy to face our insecurities, but that voice may be holding you back in ways you don’t even realize, she says. It’s time for its power to go.