Life at Work

Some Promises You Should Keep

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 1, 2006

At the beginning of a new year, I always like looking at a calendar that I keep on my desk (yes, I'm old school), knowing it's wide open. It's as if that calendar is sitting there saying, "I'm all yours."

It's a fresh feeling. An acknowledgment that no matter what happened last year, I can try again. And no matter what I didn't accomplish in 2005, here's another chance. Lucky me.

The 2006 calendar here on my messy desk is taunting the beat-up 2005 calendar, all folded pages, ripped edges and bent paper clips marking off particular big-event days. The 2005 calendar had its own day when resolutions were still just a thought. It's done. It's over. It's so, well, yesterday. It's time to toss that 2005 calendar and make 2006 resolutions. (First for me: cleaning off a space on this desk for the calendar.)

So what about those 2006 resolutions? Did you make any? Have you given up on making New Year's resolutions? Do you simply change the things you want to change as they come up?

According to Michael Crom, executive vice president for Dale Carnegie Training, 45 percent of workers are making career-oriented resolutions this year. There were probably many work-related resolutions shouted out at the stroke of midnight over a glass of bubbly last night. Do you remember yours through the haze?

Here are the resolutions I wish we would all make:

Learn something new. Are you bored at work? Does your job feel like a grind? If it does, then you're bringing everyone down. Including yourself. And it doesn't have to be that way. Learn something new and take it back to the office. If it doesn't apply to your job but you think you could find a job where these new skills will be excitedly put to use, then make a search for that new opportunity part of your resolution.

There are so many classes, groups and organizations out there that can help us expand our brains and inspire us again. It's time to figure out what we want to learn and go for it.

Take Chuck Murphy, who just started a new job in December: "My resolution is to take advantage of a generous tuition reimbursement program and become an invaluable asset to my employer," he said. His organization offers a $3,500 reimbursement every year, even for non-work-related courses, he said. It awards bonuses for degree milestones and even offers interesting free courses that can be taken at work.

Murphy wants to take accounting, computer application and some programming classes.

It's so easy to know your employer offers this, but not to actually use it. It's free money, and a free education. We should always be learning new things, even if we already have our degree.

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