Don't put off reading about the one New Year's resolution to rule them all!

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It’s become popular to make fun of the venerable New Year’s resolution. After all, the great majority of them are abandoned before the end of January — maybe even sooner.

Usually this is because we set vague, unrealistic goals, or we set realistic goals but neglect to put processes into place to accomplish them.

But there’s one New Year’s resolution that is both specific and realistic. Implementing it can transform your work life. Maybe even the rest of your life too. Here it is:

Stop procrastinating.

Procrastination is probably the biggest obstacle to achieving our dreams. We all do it. The reasons why vary — fear of failure, or feeling that the task at hand is too difficult, too boring or too trivial. Maybe we are waiting for that perfect moment to tackle the job.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the temptation to put off till tomorrow what we could so easily do today is an extremely powerful and strong temptation. In fact, we don’t just put off tasks we don’t want to do. We sometimes put off tasks that we do want to do.

So what to do?

Make it a habit. Turn those petty repetitive tasks no one really likes into habits, and you’ll never have to think about doing them again. You’ll just do them, like brushing your teeth.

Slice and dice. All tasks, large or small, can be broken down into smaller components. Do this until the steps are so short and simple that performing them is practically painless.

Think short term. If your biggest challenge is just getting started, try telling yourself you only have to work for 10 minutes, and that at the end of 10 minutes, you will get to decide if you want to continue. Very often you will.

Use peer pressure. For some people avoiding embarrassment is a powerful motivator. If this is you, find a buddy to whom you can be accountable, and vice versa. You will both be inspired by each other’s progress.

Embrace imperfection. Nothing was ever accomplished without mistakes. So forget about coming up with a perfect plan and keep in mind that doing something is nearly always better than doing nothing.

P.S.: Start now.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at