Before you give up on your goal-setting efforts, how about trying something different this year?

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You survived the holiday season and your in-law’s lengthy visit. Now, everywhere you go, people seem to be talking about their 2017 New Year’s resolutions.

You’ve thought about setting some goals for the New Year, but if completing last year’s list of resolutions didn’t go very well then you’re not alone. Before you give up on your goal-setting efforts, how about trying something different?

For many people (including me!), it can be tempting to bite off more than we can chew. Instead of coming up with a long list of 2017 goals, here are three options.

Pick one skill to learn. This year, choose ONE topic – and then do everything you can to become an expert in it:

  • Think about the next job you’d like to have and the key skills necessary to be successful. Choose one of the skills you don’t yet have or that you’d like to learn, then make that skill your area of focus for 2017.
  • Read books, attend local seminars or take an online class on your topic.
  • Consider certificate programs at Seattle-area colleges or universities. These are usually evening, weekend or online programs so working adults can fit them into their schedules.
  • Take advantage of your organization’s internal training classes or tuition reimbursement program to help defray costs.

Create a positive habit. Choose ONE habit you’d like to instill into your daily routine. For example, let’s say you want to become better organized. Instead of arriving at work and jumping into responding to emails or answering voicemails, grab a cup of coffee or tea and plan your day:

  • Take the first 15 minutes each morning to consider everything you need to accomplish – and write it down.
  • Prioritize your list so you can see the most important activities all the way down to the least important.
  • Then, schedule the time on your calendar that you’ll need to complete your high-priority tasks and projects.

Break a negative habit. Choose ONE habit you’d like to break. We all have a few bad habits we’d like to stop, whether it’s telling ourselves we’re too tired to exercise or reaching for sweets in mid-afternoon. One of the best ways to overcome a negative habit is to replace it with a positive one:

  • First, identify the bad habit (lack of exercise, interrupting others, late to meetings, etc.) – and write it down.
  • Determine the triggers. Be your own detective to uncover why you engage in the behavior.
  • Brainstorm activities to replace the bad habit. If you reach for sweets in the afternoon, try asking a co-worker to go for a walk. If you tend to interrupt others, try biting your tongue and asking questions to understand (not reply).

Make 2017 the year you try something different when it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions. You’ll be glad you did!

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at