Many times we make our New Year's resolutions with a "wink, wink" attitude – not losing any sleep if we break them – or come up with unrealistic resolutions we know will be nearly impossible to keep, like vowing to stay off chocolate for all of 2013.
But what about those work-related resolutions, the ones that could have a lasting impact on your career? These professional promises are just as important to make and keep, if not more so. Work-related resolutions can help you interact better with co-workers and clients, get a jumpstart on an important project or help you make the necessary changes to land a better paying, more fulfilling job down the road.
Set simple, achievable goals
Before you start dreaming up lofty goals for 2013 that could lead to a letdown, try taking a deep breath and consider some resolutions that are uncomplicated, reachable, but also effective.
Anne Brown, author of "Grad to Great: Discover the Secrets to Success in Your First Career" (Dalidaze Press, $18.50), says learning how to set goals effectively will make you a more productive worker and help you realize your aspirations sooner.
"Learn to set goals that are measurable," Brown suggests. "For example, instead of stating that you want to get more experience in your chosen field, make it a goal to obtain an internship with one of 10 specific companies in the next two months."
Build a strong professional network
Learning how to forge and maintain strong, positive relationships with professional colleagues is vital in today's working world.
If your plans for next year include trying to land a promotion or receive a glowing job recommendation from a co-worker or manager, having a solid professional network will be key.
"Research shows that networks can help us find better jobs and improve our productivity in the ones we have," says career expert Jeanne Hurlbert. "It also shows that social networks can increase our job satisfaction – if we build the right kind of business networks that create a mix of weak and strong ties."
Keep a positive attitude
Sometimes it may seem impossible to stay upbeat at work, especially if a co-worker rubs you the wrong way on a daily basis.
If certain aspects of your job annoy or upset you, try to make positive adjustments to your daily routine, Brown says. Taking steps such as adding daily exercise or carving out an extra 15 minutes of "you" time in the morning can help ease the stress of work.
"Believe that everyone acts with the best of intentions," Brown says. "If someone does something that upsets you, take a deep breath and try to see the situation through their eyes."
Also, avoid talking negatively about your company or co-workers, especially while on the job.
Katy Piotrowski, author of "The Career Coward's Guide to Changing Careers" (JIST, $10.95), says "bad-mouthing your company, coworkers, or boss" could "end up tainting you like a bad smell."
"If you need to vent, find a safe friend not associated with your employment," she says.
Revise your resume
Resumes can easily become outdated, especially if you have recently changed positions within your company. Be sure to highlight your new responsibilities on your resume as this is an area that cannot be disregarded.
"To make a resume stand out from the competition, job seekers need to ensure the ‘profile' section at the top of the resume details the specific core competencies they possess," says resume consultant Kathy Sweeney.
And remember to focus on what you've achieved.
"Accomplishments are usually measured in increases in revenue or productivity, decreases in costs, development, or implementation of processes or procedures that reduce the time it takes to complete a task," Sweeney says. "It is best to have numbers, whether it is dollar figures or percentages."
A clean cubicle is a happy cubicle
We all let our workspaces get sloppy at times – stacks of folders and documents, leftover food wrappers, that electric bill you were supposed to mail in January of 2003.
You may be surprised how a little tidiness can be uplifting, says Shawn Graham, author of "Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job" (JIST, $12.95)
"If your desk looks like a disaster area and you're still looking for the report you lost three weeks ago, now is the time to clean house," Graham says. "Use the New Year as an excuse to do a little ‘spring cleaning' around the office."