Don't let the new year ruin your career ~ Pop Your Career

Don’t let the new year ruin your career

At the beginning of every new year, a few common themes become apparent with my clients and the people I encounter in general. Themes that tend to change our way of thinking and trigger actions that can sometimes be quite counter-productive in terms of career development.


In this post, I am sharing the three most common themes that I see at this time of the year and what you can do to make sure the new year doesn’t ruin your career!

COMMON NEW YEAR THEMES that could ruin your career:


You have probably heard this saying. Most of us use the beginning of a new year to set loads of unrealistic expectations for ourselves, with goals that are well out of our reach, that we might not be that committed to achieving anyway. You know the ones…

One year, mine was taking more photos. I decided to do the Fat Mum Slim Photo a Day Challenge and I lasted 4 days before I completely forgot about it and moved onto the next shiny thing.

New Year, New You though, sometimes creeps into our careers as well. You might decide that this is going to be the year you climb the corporate ladder. Perhaps you think it is a great time for a new career. Or maybe you are determined to start behaving differently as part of your new year persona. Each of these goals could be quite positive, but they also have a dark side that could become quite dangerous for your long term career.

The New Year Suckies

The New Year Suckies usually hit when you have taken a break over the new year period. You have had a bit of a holiday, you are loving life (especially the late nights and sleep-ins) and then all of a sudden you have to get up early and go to work.

I know this exact feeling. Each year I enjoy my "Christmas, New Year and Birthday Shut-down" where I close my books until mid January. Am I joyous about returning? No. As much as I absolutely love my job (even more so now that I work full time for myself), having no responsibilities is fun and I love the fact that I can pursue my creative interests and do whatever I feel like doing, and when. Even if it means spending a whole day binging on TikTok videos.

Seeing a cloud’s silver lining isn’t always easy though and the New Year Suckies can make you resent your job, even if you liked it before the break. You might have a crappy attitude and could even affect your team’s morale (or your longer term career goals) if you don’t keep yourself in check. Don't let a bad attitude ruin your career for good!

Ch ch change…

Some people live for change. Let’s just make it clear up front that I am not one of those people, but there are these lovely unicorns out there that love change so much that they will change, just for the sake of change. Have you ever heard the saying, “She changes her mind every time she changes her underwear”? That’s what I am talking about.

Often with these change-seekers, it only takes a tiny trigger to set that desire for change in motion. A trigger like… a new year starting! Regardless of anything else, the new year can often prompt a desperate need to change jobs, even if it hasn’t been on the cards before and even if it is not the wisest move. But the “need” is so strong!

Changing jobs at the wrong time can be disastrous for your career. Especially if you don’t think it through properly and just jump to the next opportunity without being clear about what you actually want. What a great Segway!

This post is not all doom and gloom.

Don’t worry. I am not going to drop in here and tell you about these themes, then cut and run. What can you do if any these themes sound familiar to you? Let me break it down for you. 

1. Recognise and acknowledge your feelings and your behaviour

The first step is always recognising that you have a problem, right? If you can recognise it, then you can admit it to yourself. That’s when you start to take control. It’s like this. Once someone points out to you that you have been a bit agro lately, you can:

  • reflect on it – “have I been agro lately?”
  • admit it to yourself – “yeah, I have been a bit of a turd”
  • explore it – “I wonder what has gotten to me…”
  • change it – “I need to make more of an effort to not let my mood affect others”

2. Cut yourself some slack

I say this all the time to my clients. In fact, my coach said it a lot to me too. Cut yourself some slack. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Stop setting unrealistic and stressful expectations for yourself. You are human and therefore not perfect!

This is harder than it sounds, particularly if you are very driven. Therefore, what I would suggest, is talking to someone about it. That might mean bailing up a friend or family member, or booking a session with a coach, but either way, it is valuable to get the perspective of someone whose opinion you respect.

(Psst... It might cost you a little money, but really what price can you put on someone helping you to not ruin your career?) 

3. Work out what you actually want

I am emphasising the word “actually” there because it is important. Sometimes what we think we want, isn’t necessarily what we actually want. Most people, unless they have done the work, don’t really know what they want – this is especially the case with those change-seekers I talked about.

Why are you thinking about changing jobs? What is it that you think will be different? Usually when I ask these questions, I get loads of conflicting answers. “I want to make more money, but work less hours, and have flexible working conditions but also have the opportunity to climb the ladder. And I want public recognition, but I want to work autonomously and to work from home. But I also want an office with a view.”


No worries. I gotchu. You can download my Don't Let the New Year Ruin Your Career workbook, right here. In the workbook, I'm giving you the perfect opportunity to reflect on what has happened in your world over the past 12 months, while getting really clear about what you want to happen, in the upcoming year (and decade!)

Most importantly, let me know how you go!

Don't let the new year ruin your career ~ Pop Your Career

About the Author


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.

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