Giving up giving up

January often has a pretty bad reputation. But, let’s face it, December is a very hard act to follow. In December it’s okay to wear inflatable antlers to work, splurge life savings on tubs of Celebrations or even eat a block of cheese before 11 am with no questions asked. Why? Because it’s Christmas, of course.

With that alone January Blues are totally understandable; however, we decide to torture ourselves one step further by giving up things we love. Vowing to ourselves that we can’t drink wine all year, that we’ll swap our favourite TV shows for 18th century novels and we must cut out all carbs because the potato is the root of all problems. Naturally.

Inevitably we soon indulge in the forbidden fruits and are left without a sense of personal accomplishment; and we’ll blame any bad day that year on karma – all because of that one chip we had eaten.

Which is why I have decided that this year I am giving up giving up and I welcome you to join me in this.  Instead I plan to flip traditional New Year’s Resolutions and create New Year’s Goals so that I can work towards something. Setting myself up to be proud as opposed to embarrassed. I’m not suggesting that we have huge goals of tackling global warming in 365 days; it can be as big or small as you like. For example, last year I promised myself I would give up crisps. This year I would choose to be more inventive with snacks. Ultimately the end goal is similar, but instead of feeling like an absolute loser tucking into a bag of crisps, I feel like a winner eating apple and peanut butter.

Regardless of what resolution you chose, life will always have its own challenges, which is why I believe it’s important to be on your own team. For instance, “75% of professionals aged 25 – 34 feel worn out by the type of work and the environment in which they work in.”[1]  This has broadly been informed by the principals of the Maslach Burnout Inventory which describes three elements of burnout:

Emotional exhaustion – where people feel emotionally overextended and exhausted by the work and the environment in which they work

Depersonalisation – where people report having no feelings or negative, cynical feelings towards their co-workers or the recipients of the type of work they do

Personal accomplishment – where people have a negative sense of their own abilities and confidence and cannot see any worth in their own achievements in the work they undertake.[2]

Granted, a simple New Year’s Goal isn’t going to reverse all these issues, but it is a step in the right direction. If you are succeeding and finding personal accomplishments in other areas it may illuminate self-worth and confidence, therefore making it easier to bear your vulnerabilities at work and put yourself forward for new challenges.

It’s crucial to have a positive outlook on your abilities both in and out of work. Social media has created a ‘brag-culture’ making it more intimidating to put yourself up for scrutiny.  Your network is ginormous so there’s more competition and there will always be someone celebrating something, somewhere. However, this doesn’t mean that they’ve had success on their first try. We are all guilty of airbrushing our highs. Whether we’re telling everyone that we have been for a jog everyday this year, but not alluding to the truth that one of those ‘jogs’ was for a train we were hoping to make. Or posting “yay a promotion – I’ve had worse Mondays ;)” on Instagram and LinkedIn but failing to mention the hardships of the journey to that post. Despite the fact that we know it’s not as easy as it seems, in times of stress or burnout rationality goes out of the window. Our research ‘Working out Burnout’ mentions that society has “a reluctance to show weakness, and a reliance on a ‘Be Strong’ attitude.”[3] This often means that when we are thinking irrationally, we’re not sharing our thoughts and in turn, silencing the voices of reason.

A sense of personal accomplishment is exhilarating and it motivates you to tackle your next goal head on. So, start simple, start with more inventive snacks and let’s see what else we can achieve in 2019.

Louise Glenn, Client Relationship Executive, Talking Talent 


[1] Talking Talent Working out Burnout 2017

[2] Talking Talent Working out Burnout 2017

[3] Talking Talent Working out Burnout 2017