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  • amyholtana


Updated: Jan 29, 2019

The frenzy has begun. It’s spewed across social media, scribbled onto sandwich boards, blasted on banner ads and printed on graphic tees. Unsurprisingly, the New Year rang in with an all-familiar mantra: “New year, new me!”

After 365 long days of challenges and missed targets, there’s nothing more appealing than a clean slate. But while many of us would like to start 2019 from scratch, none of us will.

Why? Because humans aren’t quick to forget. Think about your first roommate, or (trigger warning) the Weeds series finale. We hold grudges, and we do it well. On top of this, we’re creatures of habit. Don’t you dare switch up that Thanksgiving menu. And yes, of course there’s a Fast & Furious 9 in the works.

It’s a new year indeed. But you’re still you. And that’s a good thing.

Even if it were possible, a completely fresh start would do a real disservice to your brand—yes, even the personal brand of a junior designer or a mid-level analyst. If you’ve experienced failure, you’ve also experienced growth. You’ve identified what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t work and which missteps to avoid this year. You’ve also seen what others did well, what you wish you knew earlier and what’s on the horizon. Don’t ignore these lessons, put them to work.

Instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater (or the objectives with the key results), use these insights to guide your 2019 goals. Don’t plan to reinvent. Plan to elevate.

The perfect example? Taco Bell. Over the past few years, Taco Bell has become one of America’s healthiest fast food chains. But Taco Bell didn’t replace sour cream with green juices, or their carefree persona with that of a no-nonsense personal trainer. Crunchwrap Supreme fans can still feel right at home, they just have to warm up to a new paint job. As Taco Bell spokesperson Alec Boyle said, “Us touting ourselves as a health halo — it’s not authentic…” Taco Bell opened their doors to a wider audience, but they didn’t forget their roots.

And neither should you.

Set yourself up for success, not failure. It’s exciting to come up with lofty goals. But it’s better to come up with achievable ones. If you spent the past year honing your craft, a new goal could be selling your work. Focus on strengthening your skillset, not forcing yourself into a new one. You made progress over the last year—be proud and find ways to take it even further.

Before you outline your 2019 goals, think about 2018 (now’s the time to grab that stress ball). To make sure you’re working in the right direction, ask yourself these questions:

What were your goals? 

What did you accomplish?

What targets did you miss (and why)?

What did you learn from peers and competitors?

What new passions did you gain?

Depending on your answers, you may want to reframe your approach to a challenge you faced in 2018. Perhaps you’ll want to let go of an objective altogether. Or maybe, you’ll want to focus on an all-new (but relevant) goal.      

Wherever you land, use the building blocks you already have. It’s a whole lot easier than mixing that “new year, new me” cement—trust me.

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