newyears1.jpgI have so many New Year’s resolutions regarding my career that it would take several blog posts to share them all with you. Most involve me becoming a better person and better at what I suck at. I, like many workers out there, make a list each year and cross my fingers that I’m able to accomplish them all.

I do this even though I know the whole resolution exercise can be futile.

A while back I interviewed Stephen Kraus, author of “Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil,” and he told me only 15 percent of resolutions have any long-term success. “People don’t really come up with a plan for executing their New Years resolutions. They just think, ‘I’m going to make big changes this year,” he said.

So why do we make these resolutions anyway? And should we at all? Are such emotion-fueled proclamations just derailing us from real career progress?

I’m always amazed at people that don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I asked my best friend Mary on New Year’s Day what her resolutions was, and she said “to make no resolutions.” I thought she was being a bit snarky about the whole thing, but my hubby gave me the same answer later that day.

What is up with these people? I find it fun to rattle off my list. Although, I often get the feeling no one is taking my list seriously. I don’t blame them.

Finding a new job or career takes lots of planning and shouldn’t be fueled by emotion.

“If you really want to take your career to the next level it has to be more than ‘I want 10 percent more money’ or ‘I hate my job,’” Kraus advised. “You have to figure out what really inspires you.”

And figure out your strengths. “There’s a lot of research out there that suggests very successful people really know their strengths and play to those,” he maintained.

Bingo! This statement is so true.

Career experts often spout career advice without any regard to what a person’s individual strengths or needs are. This makes sense of course because they want to reach the widest audience. But telling someone to network or to write pithy cover letters may not be things everyone can do, or at least do well. I’m guilty of this when I tell people they have to do X and Y in order to land a gig. Sometimes someone just can’t take strangers out to lunch to pick their brains or ask them to be mentors; or they just can’t write well no matter how they try.

We never think of these scenarios when we’re spewing advice to folks, but it’s a reality we all must face. So, ask yourself what you’re good at and build on that as Kraus advised. That seems to make the most sense.

Kraus suggested checking out, which offers a free strength tests tool.

I’m still all for making those resolutions, but let’s focus them on what we do well and not just promise to become totally different people. I know I’m going to continue to be a workaholic in 2011 no matter what resolution I make about working less. But I’m going to use my over-working tendencies to come up with a schedule that gives me more personal time.

What’s your resolution? Don’t just share the one you made out of emotion or champagne, but really think about a new one that plays off your strengths.

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