It’s the time of year when everyone starts thinking about resolutions. And contrary to all the experts and articles that say that “resolutions don’t work,” I remain firmly in the pro-resolution camp with one major caveat: You need to choose resolutions that you can make happen. Not achieving resolutions in the past isn’t a reason not to make them now—especially for something as important as our careers.
Now, obviously New Year’s resolutions are very personal and it’s not going to work for me to prescribe them for you. That said, I have a few suggestions that you might find useful as a starting point for your own. All these are designed to either improve your career, learn new skills, or make the most of your time off.
With that said, let’s talk a little about resolutions for your career—and life—for the new year.
Resolve to work in a career that makes you feel fulfilled
Remember, we spend at least 40 hours per week (and often more) plus commuting time at our jobs. Most people see their coworkers for more hours than they see their kids or spouses.
Taking out time for sleep, we spend more than 1/3 of our lives at our jobs. So let me ask you: How does that make you feel?
Does your career make you feel fulfilled? Respected? Creative? Well-paid?
Because if not, you’re giving away more than a third of your precious waking hours to a career that isn’t right for you.
And, if you ask me, that’s unacceptable. You deserve more.
You don’t have to be “happy” at work every day. It’s not realistic to expect to regularly feel gleeful about your job. But what IS reasonable is to expect to feel proud of the work you do, feel respected by your peers and boss/clients, and challenged just enough to feel engaged and interested.
Here’s another key piece of information: You can’t really know for sure until you try something out. But that’s great news because everything you learn to do is another skill to add to your career arsenal.
For example, what if you learn copywriting and decide it’s not something you want to do full-time?
Well, first, you could decide you just want to do it as a side hustle to make extra cash and add a $12,000-$24,000/year cushion to your income for emergencies, vacations, etc. (Please note that this is NOT a guarantee—the amount you make depends on you taking the steps to learn and then build your business. I will give you all the guidance and support, but you have to do the work.)
Or, second, you could just add it as a skill to your resume to make yourself more marketable. Studies estimate that adding hard skills like copywriting to your resume can bump up your salary by 15-20%.
That’s a win, no matter what.
But, again, you can’t know if a career is right for you until you try it. So, resolve to get out of your comfort zone and dig in.
1. Don’t settle for a crappy job.
Life is too short to spend 40+ hours a week doing something you hate. If you don’t like your job, resolve to do something to change it.
Now, that may not mean quitting your job on January 1st. But it may mean coming up with an exit strategy. Can you start building up freelance work on the side? Can you look for a new job? Commit to taking daily actions that will help you execute this plan.
2. Figure out what you really want to do.
Make this the year you figure out what you would enjoy doing.
That may mean both what you’re opting to do career-wise, but it may also mean where you’re living, how many hours you’re working, and how much income you really need/want to make to do what you want to do.
Dip your toes into new things. Explore new facets of something you’re currently doing. Take strategic risks.
3. Revamp your resume.
Groan, groan; I know, working on your resume isn’t fun. But it’s crucial and it needs to be ready in case the perfect opportunity comes up.
Even if you’ve got a ton of clients, there’s nothing worse than revisiting a resume that’s five, 10, or more years old. Keeping it relatively up to date each year makes this process a lot less painful.
4. Build or refresh your portfolio site.
If you haven’t yet, now is the time to finally put together your copywriting portfolio site. If you have built it already, resolve to improve it. Our portfolios are our calling cards as copywriters. It’s what can determine if a client wants to pursue a conversation with us or find another copywriter. So, take some time to refresh your portfolio (and schedule time to revisit at least at least twice a year, if not more often).
5. Add a blog to your portfolio site.
Set a goal to write at least once per month about your thoughts on current ad campaigns, industry trends, or copywriting work that you’ve done. Then, as you get going, push yourself to publish a post every other week.
A blog can help you attract potential clients to your site and give them more reasons to come back. To remain consistent in your posting, consider coming up with your content plan for a month or two in advance and schedule your writing on your calendar. Treat it like the project that it is!
6. Update your LinkedIn profile.
Freshen up your bio, change your profile title, add pieces to the portfolio, and make sure it puts your best foot forward.
For Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students, this is a good time to watch (or rewatch!) the LinkedIn bonus course.
7. Revamp your social media profiles (and check your privacy settings).
Make sure your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media profiles say that you’re a copywriter. Check your privacy settings to make sure you share only what you want to share.
If you don’t have separate business and personal accounts, now may be the time to consider it. If you’re adding a blog to your site, consider how you can promote the content you’re creating across your social channels. Schedule those posts in advance just as you are with your blog writing.
8. Make five new contacts each month.
Get out there and network! Attend events, ask for introductions, or connect with people via LinkedIn.
(Reminder to Comprehensive Copywriting Academy students: There’s an entire course about who to connect with and how to connect with them!)
9. Get listed with five recruiters.
Call or email them and get on their list. You want to be one of the ones they call when work comes in!
Recruiters often work with companies to fill both full-time and contract and freelance roles, so no matter what way you want to work, it helps to connect with them. It’s also like having an extra set of eyes on opportunities. Recruiters often know about opportunities before they’re listed to the public.
You can find recruiters at major recruiting companies, but also look for recruiters who are local to your area and running their own business.
10. Meet three new designers.
Spec ads are essential, especially when you’re just starting out. Also essential? A network of designers. The more designers you know, the more designers you’ll have to partner with for your ads (and who may potentially refer you to clients down the line).
Even if you’re working as a copywriter, consider the designers in your network. When was the last time you reached out to them? Are they still designing? Could you use a few new designers in your network? (Hint: The answer is yes!)
11. Send out one thank you note a month.
You can think of at least someone to thank for something each month. Send them a short, handwritten note to convey your gratitude.
This doesn’t have to be a client, but it can. While the new year is a great excuse to send a note, you can also thank the client when you send your invoice, noting anything in particular about the project that you particularly enjoyed or any stellar employees who you got to work with on the project that you want to call out to the team.
12. Join an industry meetup group or attend an industry event.
You can’t meet new contacts unless you go where they are. Join groups and attend events. You can make contacts in virtual groups but, if possible, attend one in person. There are more chances for spontaneous conversations and encounters.
Resolve to acquire the skills you need to make a change
Most career changes are going to require some new set of skills. After all, if you already knew how to do something, you’d be doing it, right?
Let that sink in for a second. A lot of people resist doing new things because they don’t know how to do them. NO ONE is born knowing how to do something; EVERYONE has to learn it. And that goes for everything from copywriting to marble sculpting, brain surgery, and working at The Gap.
As adults, it’s not often that we must learn something new, which means that you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone. And let’s be clear: No matter who you are, that’s going to kick up a lot of resistance. A very loud part of your brain is programmed to try to keep you in your comfort zone, even when that doesn’t benefit you.
Expect resistance. Expect to want to procrastinate. Expect a sneaky voice to say things like, “Ooh, maybe you’re not supposed to do this after all. Why don’t you just stick with your current job? It’s not SO bad…” Expect to periodically feel frustrated, discouraged, and nervous.
But here’s the key: Those feelings don’t last if you keep doing the work. Feel the resistance/frustration/discouragement/fear…and then act anyway. And if that next action feels overwhelming, break it down into steps so absurdly tiny they’re laughable. (As in, “open internet browser.” Check. “Type in squarespace.com.” Check.) When they’re that little, there’s no resistance to doing them and you make progress. Write ‘em down and check ‘em off.
13. Invest in yourself.
Whether it’s time or money, invest in improving yourself, gaining new knowledge, and/or building new skills. That may mean purchasing a book (and making the time for yourself to read it). It may mean attending a conference you’ve been eyeing for years that will allow you to network with other professionals. It may be finding a course that lets you hone your skills in a specific area you’re interested in.
14. Read at least one new business book each month.
There are a ton of great ones out there. Don’t miss Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini while you’re at it.
You can find all of our team’s favorite book recommendations here. Bookmark it so you always have a handy reading list and make sure you stay on our email list so you can get our team’s latest recommendations!
15. Learn something—anything—new.
How to speak Portuguese, how to make risotto, how to change your car’s oil: There are unlimited things you could learn. Pick one.
Resolve to make your time reflect your real priorities
Here’s a hard truth: What you do with your time reflects what you really care about. You can say you want to get in shape, but if you watch an hour of Netflix instead of going to the gym or going for a walk, your priorities are clear: You value entertainment over your health.
No, I’m not saying that you’re not allowed downtime. Of course you are! We all need it.
But we also have only so many hours in our day and if you find yourself on Instagram or watching TV instead of doing things you say you want to do, like work out, spend time with your significant other, work on a novel, acquire a new skill, or build your business…well, you’ve made your priorities clear.
So, resolve to make sure that your time reflects your real priorities: Even if you start with just 15 minutes per day, spend time each day making progress toward your goals. The real secret to hitting your goals is committing to persistence and consistency.
If you’re looking for a little help breaking these goals down into milestones, priorities, and daily tasks, check out this post about creating your own planner. And if you need to spend a little time thinking about your goals, check out this post here.
But no matter what you do, resolve to take your career (and your life) seriously this year. You’re worth it.
16. If you’re unhappy, change something.
This is broad, but sometimes it needs to be. Identify something you’re not happy with in your life…and do something to change it.
Start by writing one thing that is making you unhappy. Then, make a list of the factors that are contributing to this feeling. It may not be a long list, but look over and start with one contributing factor and write out a list of possible solutions to address this factor. Systematically do this and you will start to see a difference.
17. Find a way to streamline at least one task in your life.
From getting groceries delivered or hiring a cleaning person to outsourcing your research tasks or joining a carpool, find a way to make something you don’t enjoy a bit easier for yourself.
Start with a list of all the tasks that you would love to save time on or eliminate. Then, go through and pick the one that is the biggest pain point or the one that is easiest to offload immediately. Make a list of steps you need to take to make that happen.
18. Plan a trip to somewhere new.
Get yourself out of the house and into a new environment, whether it’s a day trip to a town you’ve never seen before or a couple of weeks in a new country. Taking some time off is critical to recharging and being as productive as possible.
19. Try something new at least once a month.
From trying a new coffee shop to giving hang gliding a whirl, challenge yourself to shake things up.
You may even implement this in your business. Is there a process you’re following that feels like it could be improved? Try changing one step in that process and seeing if it streamlines it. If not, that’s okay! Or try pitching a new industry.
20. Create something.
Build a model airplane, write a play, build a table, paint a landscape: Add something new to the world.
For many copywriters who also love to write fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and other forms of creative writing, that may mean carving out some time to devote to that idea you’ve been sitting on. Consider combining it with resolution idea #3: Plan a trip somewhere and devote a day to your creative writing project.
21. Stop watching one of your regular television shows.
Chances are, there’s at least one that you don’t even enjoy all that much and you just watch out of habit. A half-hour show takes up 26 hours of your life each year and an hour show takes up 52 hours. Find something better to do with that time. Every resolution on this list is another way to fill that time!
22. Read a book by a new author.
Pick up a book by an author you’ve never read before and give it a go. This may fit in with resolution #1 (invest in yourself), but it doesn’t have to. Whether it’s nonfiction or fiction, pick up a book from a new author that may give you a different perspective or offer a different approach to help break out of the that’s-how-I’ve-always-done-it mentality.
23. Learn to cook something new.
Cooking requires a very different type of creativity than writing does. Stretch yourself by picking a recipe and giving it a try.
This will also force you to build more time in your schedule to tackle it, giving you some much-needed time away from the screen.
24. Create a list of procrastination tasks.
Sometimes you just won’t be able to get past procrastination. When that happens, make sure you have a list of productive or creative things you can do instead of the work you’re putting off.
When the urge to scroll (and scroll…and scroll…) on social media strikes that can trigger you to get in the habit of looking at your list and seeing if there’s something else you can do that’s more productive but gives your brain a break from what you’re currently working on.
25. Give yourself some credit.
You’re a good person. You’re trying to be a better person. You care about other people and you’re trying to lead the best life that you can. Sometimes you need to appreciate yourself and the things that you do.
Consider starting a wins journal (or wins notebook or Word Doc—however you want to refer to it). Include any milestones you reach, both big and small. Include client feedback. Add compliments a friend or family member gave you. When imposter syndrome strikes or you just need a boost, flip back through.
Do you have any resolutions for the coming year? Let us know in the comments below!
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Last Updated on January 18, 2023
To continue to be kinder to myself.
The Filthy Rich Writer Team says
So important! I recently heard someone say, “if you wouldn’t say it to someone you love, why would you say it to yourself”?