New Year’s Resolutions: Make Real Changes in 2021

business in 2021

It’s January – time for New Year’s resolutions – and especially after surviving 2020, many of us are looking for a change.

Some have no choice. We have lost jobs, businesses, or loved ones, and we need a new start.

Others have the luxury of choosing. We have realized that a fancy job title is less important than time with family and friends. Maybe exercising to fill time has morphed into a goal for a healthier lifestyle.

New Year’s, New You?

The beginning of the year feels like the right time to start afresh. We toss out old bills, sort out our tax papers, clean out our closets and look to the future. We decide what to keep and what to change about ourselves as well as our possessions. We set goals for the year and call them New Year’s Resolutions, as if naming them will give us the resolve to stick with them. Almost everyone’s list of New Year’s Resolutions includes some version of getting fit, taking control of finances, and learning something new.

Whatever your change and whatever your reason, I salute you. Growing, changing and improving keeps life interesting. Controlling change in part of your life can give you the resilience to adapt to changes you don’t see coming.

I also want to warn you. Superficial change is a waste of energy. It’s like spending the summer nurturing a garden, only to let the vegetables rot on the vine in the fall. Don’t let that happen to you.

Here are 3 things that you can change in 2021, that will not change your life. They won’t get you any closer to your new goals, or to your dreams. Unless you address what lies behind them.

Superficial change is  like nurturing your garden all summer then letting the vegetables rot on the vine in the fall.

Find a new look – or look beyond appearance

Starting the year with some form of a new look is on almost everyone’s list. Whether it’s finally losing those last 10 pounds, covering your first gray hairs, or doing a wardrobe makeover with a professional stylist, changing your appearance can feel like emerging from a chrysalis and spreading your butterfly wings. The right look really can make you feel like a new person.

Just be sure you know why you are making that change. A new look doesn’t change who you are. If you hate your job in your boring blue suit, you will hate it just as much in a deconstructed khaki blazer. And that stylish new bob won’t make you any braver.

Meaningful change requires you to work on your inside, not just your outside. Instead of expecting a new suit to get you a raise, focus on how to ask for one effectively and then do it. Hate your job? Look for a new one, and wear that blazer for the interview.

Learn a new skill – then use it


According to Class Central, one-third of the people to ever join MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) did so in 2020, learning new skills or earning degrees. If you’re one of those, congratulations!

Now, what are you going to do with it? That new skill needs to do more than live on your resume and LinkedIn profile. If you have learned it and earned it, you have to use it.

Did you earn a certificate in SEO? Make a New Year’s Resolution for 2021 to do something with it. Look for a job that uses that skill, start freelancing, or use it to revamp your own website. Don’t just let it sit there. If you are one of the incredible people who managed to finish a degree while working, don’t just rest on your laurels. Use your knowledge.

If you studied investing, use that knowledge and start actively managing your money.

Whatever you learned, think back to why you wanted to learn it in the first place. What about the topic excited you? What kept you studying, when everyone around you was binging the latest Netflix series? Learning for its own sake is never wasted, but meaningful change comes from using what you learn.

Start a new relationship – the right one

2020 tested the mettle of our personal relationships, showing us whether we could survive being apart, or stand being together. Unfortunately, many could not: 67% of people surveyed by ended a relationship in 2020, with 15% of them reporting that living together under lockdown showed them sides of their partner they really couldn’t stand.

Now that 2021 has started and the end of the corona tunnel is in sight, maybe you’re ready to go back out into the dating scene.

If you’ve set a goal for 2021 to find a new love, I wish you luck. Before you start the search, think long and hard about what went wrong with this last relationship. If you were at each other’s throats on a 24/7 togetherness schedule, what were your sticking points? If you couldn’t stand the separation, what does that tell you? And if you escaped from an abusive relationship, what can you do to spot the warning signs and protect yourself the next time?

If you don’t know what went wrong, you will replay the same relationship over and over again until you learn the lesson. I think that’s why I dated the same lousy boyfriend twice, at 17 and 28. I had to learn to spot a fake commitment and to walk away from it without fear.

Think about the deeper lessons, then use them to shape your New Year’s dating resolutions.

Your New Year’s Resolutions – more than a list

When you think about your 2021 resolutions, look deeper than the surface changes. Look for what’s behind them, the hidden engines driving you towards one goal or another.  This can be the year you make a meaningful change in your life. I’m cheering for you!

Marne Platt

Dr. Marne Platt is the President of Fundamental Capabilities and the author of 3 books (so far): Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way; Professional Presence; and PREP For Success. Originally a practicing veterinarian, she built a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. She founded Fundamental Capabilities to ‘pay it forward’ by providing career development workshops and coaching for women. ‘Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way’ is an ‘older sister in your pocket’ packed full of advice for young women on building their own independent and exciting life. 'Professional Presence' and PREP For Success' help you strengthen your spoken and unspoken communication and leadership presence.