New Year’s resolutions are something of a paradox. While the intent is to put a name to a commitment as a promise to ourselves to honor it, so many of us stop at the naming part.
Holding a want or need inside is how the best ideas gestate, but voicing it aloud can keep you accountable — so long as you realize the work doesn’t stop once you’ve expressed it.
To that end, the Ragan editorial team asked members of our network to share their career- and communications-centric New Year’s resolutions with us. We’re grateful to these leaders for their courage in sharing their goals, not only in the seasonal spirit of sharing, but also so that we may learn from their objectives and model our own goals after their example. We also look forward to seeing how these communicators bring their objectives to life (and we’re confident they will).
We hope that you’ll see something to inspire, inform and codify your own commitments, too.
Here are the ones that stuck out most.
Impactful, strategic prioritization
“My number one goal in the new year is to start a ‘Not-To-Do’ list.’ I stole this idea from a friend and love the concept. In 2024, I want to ensure that my team isn’t spending time on things that don’t move the needle. As communications professionals, a million asks are often thrown our way and I plan to be more discerning and intentional with what we devote our time and resources on.
“My second resolution is to slow down and prioritize. This industry is known for being fast-paced – it’s one of the many reasons I love it – however, sometimes I find myself doing too much at once. And if I’m really honest with myself, I’ve made some silly and some not-so-silly mistakes while in a rush. In 2024, I want to slow down and prioritize my priorities.”
~ Johnna Muscente, Head of Communications and PR, The Corcoran Group
“My goal in 2024 is focus, as sometimes I can’t see the forest from the trees. It’s easy to get caught up in a swirling cyclone of urgent requests and never-ending deadlines, managing a flurry of details and pushing ourselves to the edge, working long hours to execute daily tasks and tactics. We all want to be wildly productive and keep checking items off the list, whether it’s a paper planner, a to-do list or organizational project management systems like Asana. No one wants to see an avalanche of looming deadlines, or worse yet, late tasks or complaints from colleagues. However, that often means we don’t take the time to pause and focus on strategy and the big picture. ’Strategy’ and ‘strategic’ are beyond overused words: They’ve become cliches, business jargon and SNL jokes — like that “strategery” sketch.
“I often feel I don’t have time to think about the big picture and our long-term goals. However, more than being productive, in 2024, I want to do be impactful. I want to focus on what is most essential first, letting everything else fall into place. Leaders often talk about their north star, future casting, or working backward from the success they want to see at the end of the year. Communications leaders can struggle with this because we’re responsible for internal and external communications and our own goals, plus often serve as in-house agency support for the entire office, which creates that endless laundry list of tasks outside our control that feel impossible to prioritize.
“In 2024, I plan to host a team retreat to review and prioritize our strategic plan goals, and accelerate the completion of our integrated organizational communications and marketing plan. Yes, I still want to see each tree — each project — and be productive, but more importantly, I want to keep the big-picture forest in front of me and our team at all times so we can make this the year that we exponentially increase our impact, increasing awareness and relevance for our organization and working to provide opportunities so that every person in every community can live their healthiest life.”
~ Amanda Ponzar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, CHC: Creating Healthier Communities
Collaborating more to refine the internal/external mix
“[I’d like to] identify more collaboration opportunities to educate on and create ‘mixternal’ communications. I know this concept really began taking off in 2021 due to the pandemic/remote work; however, with the return to office, I am seeing less intentional communication/collaboration between some teams because they are again beginning to meet in person — whereas before, they were forced to think through ‘how do we communicate this’ on the even playing field of a remote working environment.
“I believe my role in internal comms will need to (as internal comms always does) help bridge the gap. So, in metaphor form, not only teach people to fish, but show them where the fish are biting.”
~ Chelsey Louzeiro, Senior Communications Manager, Heifer International
Making email comms simpler and more accessible
“In 2023, I decided to pay close attention to what our team has to say about the emails we send around. Everything from the amount of emails in a day, the content of the emails, the design of the emails, and what days they are sent. I get it — nobody’s glued to their screens waiting for the next company update. So, for my 2024 resolution, I want to make the stuff I share more accessible and interesting for everyone.
“I know people check their emails at all kinds of random times (especially knowing we are a national organization with global offices), so my plan for 2024 is to keep things simple. I’ll throw in quick summaries or ‘TLDRs’ to ensure the important stuff isn’t lost in the shuffle. AI programs like Grammarly offer great tools to summarize large amounts of content into one paragraph or bullet points. Making it easy for my associates to digest information will be key in sharing company news.”
~ Aray Rivera, Sr. Manager, Internal Communications, J. Crew
Championing underrecognized social media managers
“My goal for 2024 is to be a champion for social media professionals, it’s time to elevate the position and give it its due recognition. I want to continue to grow and support young social media managers and help them advance their careers. Why? Because social media managers understand critical things about a brand’s audience, their preferences, and their needs. I believe missteps and even mistakes are made because the recommendations of social media managers are not taken seriously, or they’re not even brought in during the strategy phase of important communication decisions. Also, I’m rooting for all social media managers, and I want them to get to where I am in my career.”
~ Jenny Li Fowler, Director of Social Media Strategy at MIT, Author of ‘Organic Social Media’
Refining the art of saying ‘yes’ less
“Communications pros tend to be pleasers. I like to tell my team that everything that comes to us is somebody’s top priority. So we say, ‘yes.’ A lot.
“My New Year’s resolution is to say ‘no’ more often. But if you listen carefully, you’ll seldom hear me actually utter that word. Instead, I’ll say it without saying it. I’ll indicate that I’ll ‘circle back with the team and check on capacity.’ I’ll ‘put it on the backlog’ and see if we can get to it down the road. I might even suggest that this be a story best told ‘in your own words’ and encourage them to submit a piece of user-generated content.
“So maybe my resolution isn’t to say ‘no’ more often, it’s actually to say ‘yes’ less frequently. Either way, it seems like the right answer, and it gives me optimism that my team and I can have an increasingly positive impact on the organization in 2024, while maintain some semblance of balance in our lives.”
~ Kevin Berchou, Head of Internal Communications, M&T Bank
May these resolutions from fellow communications leaders inspire you to be pragmatic yet ambitious as you set your own commitments for 2024!