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Looking forward to 2015

New Year a time for reflection and planning

By Brian Kreissl

I cannot believe we are already in 2015. Is it just me, or did 2014 just fly by?

It certainly seems like my parents were right all along — the older you get, the faster time goes. I don’t know about everyone else, but back when I was a kid a year seemed to last much longer than it does now.

While experts aren’t sure exactly why that is, the most plausible explanation I’ve heard is simply that, as we age, a year (or any other unit of time) gradually becomes a smaller portion of our lives up to that point. Put another way, a year represents a significant chunk of a five year-old’s life, but only a small part of the life of a centenarian.

Another possibility is that, as life becomes faster and more hectic, time seems to go faster. One might think that being busy might make time seem to go slower because we have to accomplish so much within much shorter timeframes, but my experience has been that having too much to do in too short a period of time actually makes time itself seem to go faster.

Reflection, planning and making resolutions

Regardless of the reason for this apparent acceleration of time, I think it is important to stop and reflect on the past and plan for the future. The dawn of a new year is a perfect time for such reflection in our lives and careers, and I think it is even more important to take time for review and planning given the frenetic pace of modern life.

Just because most people don’t stick to their resolutions — which is immediately obvious given the immediate drop-off in attendance at health clubs after January — doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful to at least try to make changes and improvements.

If your employer is like mine, with the fiscal year coinciding with the calendar year, you will no doubt be forced to formally engage in this process — at least from a performance management perspective. However, I believe we should all take the time early in the New Year to reflect on the successes, challenges, accomplishments and significant milestones from the previous year as well as planning for the upcoming year.

Above all, we should be able to articulate what we learned during the previous year and what we would like to change moving forward (hence the popularity of New Year’s resolutions). This should apply both personally and professionally. While every role and organization is different, most people have some down time around New Year when they can do some of this type of thinking and planning.

It is important not to be too hard on oneself or make resolutions you aren’t going to stick with for the long-term. For this reason, most experts believe in making resolutions that are realistic and specific (much like “SMART” goals and objectives, which are “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound”).

New Year’s resolutions for HR practitioners

As HR practitioners, we should make resolutions for ourselves both personally and professionally (although professional resolutions don’t always have to relate directly to the formal performance management process). Depending on one’s level within the organizational hierarchy, resolutions may even relate to an entire team, department or function.

While my resolutions this year are personal rather than professional in nature, each of them is likely to have a spillover effect into my work life – particularly from a wellness perspective. This year, I have resolved to exercise more, lose weight, be more positive and simply focus on doing what I need to do when I need to do it – all of which will likely have a positive impact on my work and career.

I encourage other HR practitioners to accept the challenge of improving themselves and their departments by resolving to make positive and meaningful change in their lives – and sticking to their resolutions for the long-term.

I also think it’s important to remember that many employees make New Year’s resolutions and may require a little bit of help from their employers to stay motivated and on the right track. A little bit of give and take may be required in helping them meet their goals, even if the vast majority of them don’t end up sticking with their resolutions in the end.

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Brian Kreissl

Brian Kreissl is the product development manager for Thomson Reuters Legal Canada's human resources, OH&S, payroll and records retention products and solutions.
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