6 ways to start the new year off right

Article3 mins22 January 2020By Angela Young

Roaring into a new decade, what better time to deal with those work niggles that made last year harder than it needed to be?

The workload that’s piled up during the holiday break is just one of the realities we face returning to the office. Whether you want to get along better with a particular colleague or focus on better time management, success is more likely if you have a plan.

“To go from enjoying time off with friends and family during the holidays to jumping back into the fast-paced work environment again can certainly be stressful,” Leadership Development Advisor, Steve Nguyen, explains. 

“As much as possible, focus on and master small, manageable goals first,” he recommends. “Once you’ve done that, you can expand to larger goals.”

Dr Marny Lishman is a Health and Community Psychologist. She points out that post-holiday blues often kick in about now. Having had a restful or exciting holiday, suddenly getting back to the grind can bring with it a rather low mood. 

“Often people are out of routine, so it feels strange having to be somewhere at a certain time,” she says.


“Learn from the mistakes of the past year but leave those mistakes, regrets and other emotional baggage behind,” 

Steve Nguyen Leadership Development Advisor

1. Don’t carry over issues from last year 

“Learn from the mistakes of the past year but leave those mistakes, regrets and other emotional baggage behind,” Nguyen advises. 

“Start fresh and don’t ruminate or dwell on past mistakes. Reliving them will only give them life in the new year.”

It’s okay to revisit values and goals, Dr Lishman says, but make sure you acknowledge it is a brand new year. 

“Don’t start the year off on the wrong foot.”

2. Set realistic goals not impossible expectations

Nguyen suggests you shouldn’t take on too much, particularly at a time when many staff members are still on holiday. 

“Be sure to accept and tackle assignments that are achievable. For big tasks or projects, learn to collaborate and delegate. Reach out for help.

"Tackle one small challenge at a time and acknowledge (and let go) of things you don’t have control over," he says. 

“Focus your energy and efforts on things over which you do have control. Some of the stresses and conflicts in the workplace have to do with our feelings of being overwhelmed with urgent tasks,  and under stress, conflicts with others are inevitable.” 

3. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint

“Many of us tend to set New Year resolutions without ever achieving what we set out to do,” he adds. “Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound (S.M.A.R.T) goals and master them.”

4. Be mindful and look after you

Mentally and physically prepare yourself by practising self-care, stress management, and making sure you sleep, eat and exercise well.

“Remember that you’re a person behind your role,” Dr Lishman says.

“What can you do to nurture that person? What do you need to feel at your best?”

Think about what made you feel good during the break. 

“Often, you’d have relaxed more, exercised more, spent more time out in nature, connecting with friends, doing different things… all of this can still be done while you’re working, to some degree. Just build them into your routine.”

You could pop to the beach after work, take a walk through a city park on your lunchbreak or meet a friend after work for a drink. 

“Keep yourself nurtured throughout work time,” says Dr Lishman. “And that will keep you calmer and more positive at work.”

Make sure that mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is a top priority, too. “That way team members know what they need to do as individuals when they feel unhappy, under pressure or stressed,” adds Dr Lishman. 

“Facilitate an open and honest conversation within workplaces, so employees can talk to management about issues without fear.” 

5. Plan positive events

Dr Lishman offers some sound advice: “Purposefully start off the year in a positive manner by consciously putting something in place to make sure staff are welcomed back and the energy is up from the beginning. 

“Acknowledge it’s a new year and get contributions from your team to make it a great year going forward. Plan professional development of team members, so they feel valued from the beginning.

"After all, a happy and healthy workforce fosters a productive and successful workplace."

6. Exercise empathy

“Obviously roles and responsibilities are different, but I don’t think there’s too much difference between the stressors that impact frontline employees and those that affect managers and organisational leaders,” Nguyen says. 

“Like their direct reports, bosses will also have work (that’s piled up while they’re on holiday) waiting for them. 

“Also, the same projects that managers are asking their employees to implement are the ones they’re sponsoring or overseeing.

“Try to put yourself in the shoes of your colleagues. Imagine what it must be like to be them and do what they’re asked to do on a daily basis. "

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