Every year, many of us make virtuous New Year’s resolutions, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, learning Esperanto or reading Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.”
This week, though, we received a subversive email that threatens to undermine the entire annual ritual of self-castigation and personal improvement.
Brad Karsh, author of "Manager 3.0: A Millennial's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management," urges communicators, employees and guilty professionals of all stripes to create “anti-resolutions” for the New Year.
We at Ragan Communications wholeheartedly commit to this cause, especially because it involves eating, not dieting. We also invited several other communicators to offer their anti-resolutions.
Here are some anti-resolutions from Karsh:
Schedule one lunch, dinner or coffee meeting per week with a team member to build strong relationships, Karsh says. “Only 35 percent of professionals feel a sense of community at work, which can have negative effects on retention and quality of work,” he says.
Go to networking events in the evenings and meet professionals in your industry, Karsh urges. This will make your work more competitive and keep you well connected.
Hit the gym less.
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Sick of those sweaty he-men and -women thundering away on treadmills or bellowing as they squat 400 pounds in the weight room? Skip the crowded gym, Karsh suggests, and instead join an indoor soccer league with your colleagues.
“This will not only build strong connections but also will switch up your exercise regimen,” he says.
Bonus: 77 percent of professionals say employee wellness programs improve the culture at work, he says.
Cash in all that vacation time, Karsh urges. “Only 37 percent of professionals feel they are able to balance home and work life,” he says. Digging your toes into the sand in the Bahamas will help.
Ha-ha. Actually, Karsh is “100 percent kidding about this one.” The U.S. has seen a 23 percent decrease in smoking since 1965, he says, so, “Let's keep this trend going.”
So, what are others anti-recommending?
Be more abrasive.
Nothing good happens in life unless you ask for it, says Gary Frisch of Swordfish Communications.
“Donald Trump leads the polls in large part because he talks like an egomaniac,” Frisch says. “But whether or not he’d be a good president, there are lessons: Wear your accomplishments on your sleeve, command the room you’re in, and be confident ... in your abilities. But only if you can back up your words with action.”
Stop saving money.
Instead of stashing your extra loot in a 401(k) or long-term savings plan, invest in yourself, suggests Brandon Andersen, director of marketing at Cision. Travel. Take a class to learn more about a field you're interested in. Gain experiences that you can't get in your cubicle.
“The payoff will come in better opportunities for you down the line in your career and personal life,” he says.
Watch more cat videos.
Every agency staffer has had a client demand a “viral video.” Yet there’s one type of video that consistently draws massive amounts of eyeballs, says Jonathan Rick of The Jonathan Rick Group. “Hint: They feature fluff and fur and felines.”
So, promise to watch more of these zany animals chasing lasers and doing backflips off the couch in 2016. “Study what makes them so fascinating, and then apply the same techniques to your own work,” he says.
Similarly, Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology suggests that you watch the video that is captivating younger audiences on YouTube. Sure, PewDiePie, Smosh, The Fine Brothers or Lindsey Stirling might not be your cuppa tea, but these names are more familiar to a younger generation than are the stars of top network TV shows, Holtz says.
“It will pay off big-time for you to get a handle on the kind of entertainment that appeals to people who will be part of your target audience soon—if they're not already,” he says.
Send more emails.
Email is a two-edged sword: It's easy to send, but it’s just as easy to ignore, Rick says. Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to follow up with her staff, he observes. So, for 2016, resolve to reply to more emails.
The smallest acknowledgement—“thanks,” “confirmed” or “we’ll let you know”—will reduce ambiguity and cut down on those “touching base,” “checking-in” or “circling back” emails.
Produce less digital internal communications content.
All right, not exactly less, but seek to better balance your digital content with face-to-face activities, says Holtz.
Be it a town hall meeting or a Halloween costume contest, face-to-face contact remains important, he says. Recent research by Weber Shandwick and the Institute for Public Relations found that millennials actually value face-to-face encounters as essential to building their reputations in the organization, Holtz says.
Similarly, David Meerman Scott suggests, “Create less content," but make all of it better.
Overwhelmed? Say "no" more often in 2016, Anderson suggests. Your time is valuable; demonstrate that by choosing what you do and don't want to work on every day. “This is the year to focus,” he says.
Spend more time on social media.
Find, develop and share content to boost your business and your clients while building your professional credibility, Frisch says. Set aside 30 to 60 minutes a day to ramp up your social media presence.
He adds that Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms “are time wasters if you’re commenting on cat videos or looking at relatives’ vacation photos, but if you keep your business at the forefront, it will pay dividends.”
Then again, some of us are going to be cuddling up with some cat videos this year.
What are your anti-resolutions for 2016?