THE BLOG
12/31/2015 09:57 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why You Won't Change in 2016

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Can you imagine a better job for yourself in 2016? Or maybe you want to focus on developing a skill that would be useful in your current role. If so, you are in good company. In fact, over the next week or so, 50 percent of you will make a New Year's resolution to improve some aspect of your personal and professional lives.

If you are a resolution-maker, the odds of keeping that promise to yourself are not in your favor. According to one study, only about eight percent of people successfully keep their New Year's resolutions.

"Well, that's a bummer," you are probably thinking. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Do not get me wrong. I am not saying it is impossible to change your career or develop new skills on the job. I am just saying that it is unlikely due to a few challenges that impact all of us.

Reason number one: Fear of the unknown. It is usually much safer to maintain the status quo than challenge ourselves and risk failure.

Reason number two: Well-meaning colleagues will offer little help, especially if you made the same resolution before and failed to keep it. Ultimately, the change you desire is up to you.

Reason number three: Another challenge when attempting to improve your career comes down to physics: An object at rest will remain at rest unless some force compels it to move. Newton's first law certainly applies to our jobs as well.

I do not mean to seem dismissive of anyone's efforts to improve themselves. I know personally that it takes monumental effort to change.

Change takes serious, hard work. It also involves repeated failures and effort. So, hopefully I can save you from a few of the failures I made earlier in my career.

If you want to set a New Year's resolution to achieve more at work next year, here are a few key ways you can try to beat the odds:

Set one goal
There might be many things that you would love to change about your job. But you can improve your chance of success by narrowing your focus to one important thing. Focus on the goal with the most payoff for you, such as learning to be a better manager.

Do your research
Your new resolution will stay fixed in the dream stage unless you bring it down to earth. So now that you have a single goal, it's time to do your homework. Your goal might seem new to you, but chances are at least one person has done it before (and documented how they did it).

Make a commitment
Write down your one narrow goal and then lay out your detailed strategy for achieving it. Put your goal in places where you will be likely to see it every day. As the year goes on, you may want to ignore what you have written down several times. But you will be grateful for it when you reach your goal.

Set reasonable milestones
Thinking about a year in terms of 365 days can seem especially daunting. Instead, break up your goal into manageable bites. For example, if your goal is to be a better public speaker, do not start by speaking to 1,000 people in a room. Plan on a smaller, reasonable goal first. And celebrate when you satisfy even the smaller milestones towards the overall goal.

Tell a friend
Sharing your plan with someone else will make you accountable to achieve that goal. After all, you may let yourself down more easily, but will not want to disappoint your friend. Choose someone supportive and encouraging rather than your worst critic. Your ally will cheer you on throughout the year and celebrate with you when you reach the end.

Many people spend too much time wishing for change and less time actually doing something about it. Wishing will not get you anywhere -- except exactly where you are right now.

Instead, formulate a roadmap for what you are going to achieve. Tell yourself that it is possible to reach your goal, and ignore the people who do not want to see you succeed. Then, hold yourself accountable for achieving the goal once and for all.

You will find that once you achieve one hard goal, the next one will not seem so insurmountable. And then next New Year's Eve, you will have another great reason to celebrate.

How will you achieve your New Year's resolution?