How to stop breaking your New Year resolutions and reach your big career goals

Jan 18, 2024

Struggling to stick to your New Year resolutions?

Every January you look forward to a fresh start and set new goals for the year ahead. But studies show over 80% of resolutions fail by February.

As a high performer, I know you want to keep growing and developing. So goals are incredibly important, as they give you something to strive for.

Still, I don’t buy into the ‘new year, new you’ hype. It’s unreasonable to put yourself under pressure one time per year. I believe in having a clear vision, setting goals from there and creating a step-by-step plan to reach them — any time of year.

Instead, I recommend you do an end of year review to assess what worked — and what didn’t — in the previous year. This helps you determine where you’ll continue to focus your time and energy and what changes you’ll make in the year ahead. It also allows you to identify any skills you need to develop to reach your next level of career success.

I’ve written many articles on productivity and planning strategies. So this week, I’m doing a different take on goal-setting by looking at some simple shifts you can make to achieve your goals.

Read on to learn the real reasons you fail to stick to your career goals. You’ll discover how to stop breaking your career resolutions and reach your big professional goals!


Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief which drives you. The reason you get out of bed every morning and go to work. The WHY behind what you do.

Setting a career goal — getting promoted, finding a new job, changing careers or starting a business — is not enough. To reach it, you also need a compelling reason to back it up.

Neuroscience supports this. The neo-cortex is the part of the brain responsible for your rational thoughts, not behaviour. Knowing what you want — a specific career goal or result, is not sufficient.

Meanwhile, your purpose appeals to the limbic brain, which controls your emotions, decision-making and behaviour. This drives your actions and results. Therefore, having a clear ‘why’ behind what you want keeps you motivated to accomplish your goals.

So as you set a goal, ask yourself: Why is this important? And how do you want to feel?

When you connect to your emotions and the intention behind your career goals, you will stay on track, even during challenging times.


If you’re finding it a challenge to reach your career goals, it could be due to a development gap. In this case, you haven’t yet identified the skills you need to bridge these gaps and accomplish what you want. This can leave you overwhelmed, frustrated or ready to give up on your goals.

Say you want to step into leadership, a role which requires you to step away from ‘doing’ the technical work. By developing your delegating skills, you’ll free up more time to focus on strategic work and leading your team. Therefore, learning how to delegate will help you achieve your goal of getting promoted into a leadership position.

Consider — who do you need to become to reach your goals? Identify the specific skill, habit, mindset or new knowledge essential to your success. What personal qualities or attributes do you need to develop to achieve what you desire?

Because when you understand your gaps and take steps to address them, you will reach your professional goals.


Accountability is key to keep you on track with your goals. When working with my coaching clients, we use different structures to help hold them accountable. Setting an intention is a great structure to remind you of what you want to achieve and stay accountable to it.

I spoke about the power of intention and simplifying your goals in a previous article reflecting on my biggest lessons for 2023. I’m a big fan of setting specific, measurable goals on a quarterly basis — but also believe in having a clear intention for the year ahead.

You may have heard people talk about choosing a ‘word of the year’. A guiding word to capture how you will achieve your goals or create positive changes. It could be something you want or what you need to develop to get to the ‘next level’ in your career.

A client expressed the desire to become more consistent with the actions they take towards their work and wellness goals. To create consistency with their schedule, financial results and health this year. ‘Consistency’ became a clear reminder of their intentions for the year — one which they can filter all daily decisions through.

My word for 2023 was PRESENCE, which allowed me to remain present in the moment and enjoy the process towards achieving my goals. In 2024, I’m feeling more fired up than I have for YEARS and I’ve chosen the word ACTIVATE. This is about expanding on the foundations I’ve built in recent years, driving even greater growth and impact — and igniting that spark in others to help them do the same!

With this method, there’s less focus on achieving a specific outcome. The emphasis is on how you want to feel and who you need to become.

So here’s my challenge to YOU. Set your intention for 2024 or a word which sums it up.

Through this lens, how do you want to spend your time? What tasks do you need to prioritise? And what step will you take next?

When you begin with a clear intention, you will stay accountable to your goals.


Another reason your career goals don’t stick is because you’ve set the bar too high. Or you’ve forgotten to break your big aspirations down into small, achievable steps.

The answer? Simplify. Ask yourself: What are the top 2-3 goals I want to achieve this year?

If it’s a challenge to choose, narrow them down by priorities, passion and profit. Remove anything which isn’t truly important or you don’t genuinely want to dedicate time and energy to this year. For your career or business, prioritise the activities which make you money.

Next, create a list of the key projects you plan to work on throughout the year. Then, break your big goals or projects down into specific tasks. These are the exact steps you need to take to accomplish your goal or complete a project.

To keep it simple, focus on one or two main goals per quarter. Each evening, identify the top three activities to work on the following day to get closer to your goals. Also, get clear on the number one priority task you need to complete before moving on to anything else.

The lesson for you is this: When you focus on small steps, consistently, you will accomplish your big goals with ease.


‘Not having time’ is the biggest excuse holding you back from reaching your goals. How many times have you set a New Year resolution to work out every day — then struggle to find the time? So you promise you’ll start tomorrow or on Monday — only to find yourself in the same place 12 months later.

If you don’t commit to your goal or create the time and space to work on it, nothing changes. Block out time to work on your goals — even 20 minutes a day or one hour each weekend — and commit to it, consistently.

Have a clear focus for this time. Plan out the activities you need to focus on to reach your goals. If you get stuck, ask yourself: What’s the next best step I can take right now?

Because when you prioritise what matters most, time becomes irrelevant.


Are you taking time to assess your progress towards a goal and what you can learn from it?

When you focus only on your results, you’ll find it hard to stay consistent — and may even give up altogether. You either hit your goal — or don’t. Then beat yourself up if you don’t or move straight on to the next goal when you do.

Get curious and evaluate what is and isn’t working as you go. If you met your goal, celebrate it and consider — what action steps did I take to achieve it? Do more of this.

If you didn’t accomplish it, look for the learnings. What will you do differently next time? This is where the growth and transformation is!

It can be challenging to commit to your New Year career resolutions. These six steps have helped my clients and I stick to and fulfil our big career goals. I hope these tips support you too!

Want further support to clarify and reach your professional goals in 2024?

Hit play on this free guided audio and in 15 minutes, I’ll give you all the strategies you need to get started! Get instant access.

Stacey Back is a globally recognised and certified career coach, speaker and facilitator. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.