Top 10 professional resolutions for the new year

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The end of the year typically prompts people to reflect on what they've accomplished in the last 12 months – and what they might do better in the coming 12 months. Have the lessons of a tumultuous 2008 informed how you will approach 2009? Have you even thought that far ahead yet?

If you're still bogged down with shopping bags and thoughts of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, consider borrowing one of these 10 resolutions from professionals who have already decided what they will focus on in the new year.

In 2009, I resolve to ...

1. Focus on passion, not the passing of days.
Holistic health counselor Trish Balbert shares, "I am going back to school for my Ph.D. in clinical psychology. It will be at least six years before I finish, and a lot of people have balked at that. They comment that it's such a long time, but my feeling is six years are going to pass one way or another. What do I want to have at the end of them? Would I rather spend them doing something I only mostly like or sort of like? Or would I rather spend them doing something that I really like that's going to get me doing something I really love?"

2. Take better advantage of your talents.
Just as the cobbler's children often have no shoes, advertising executive Jim Ellis's agency, Ellis + Potter Advertising, has been so busy providing marketing solutions for clients that they've neglected their own marketing. Ellis says, "In 2009, we resolve to ramp up our website and use its inherent strengths and benefits as more of a new business building tool to create opportunities."

3. Ignore the hype.
Tired of all the bad news? Tune it out! Jennifer DeSpagna, director of Timber Lake West Camp, says, "Well, I don't know if you would call this a resolution, but as my boss put it, 'We are choosing not to participate in this recession!' That is where I'll be coming from in 2009!"

4. Let someone else sweat the small stuff.
Lisa Steadman, also known as "The Relationship Journalist" and founder of, is ready to grow her business in 2009 -- with a little help. "I resolve to spend more time working ON my business and less time working IN my business. I've already hired a virtual assistant who does amazing work, and I am in the process of interviewing a part-time office assistant that my husband and I can share between our businesses."

5. Raise my profile.
Maya Kalman, president of Swank Productions, a Manhattan-based event-planning agency, shares, "My resolution is to do more publicity and public relations this year. I'm going to focus on doing more press -- because press equals exposure, which equals money!" She adds, "I'm also focusing on staying positive to move the company in the right direction, despite the current economy."

6. Spend money to make more money.
Brooklyn photographer Michael Harlan Turkell, who specializes in the culinary arts, reveals, "I've realized you have to spend money to make money. I had to turn down a lot of jobs this year because I didn't have a commercial space, but I realize how much more productive I could have been with an actual space."

As a freelancer, however, cash flow is always a concern, so Turkell is also on a quest to find a CPA who can help him spend wisely over the course of the year. "Right now, it's about not knowing what to spend and I'm investigating how a quarterly schedule might work best for a freelancer."

7. Recharge to continue to charge ahead.
Daisy Swan, a career coach and strategist and president of Daisy Swan & Associates, promises, "This past year taught me that taking time to regroup and recharge is essential to being able to give my gifts and effectively wear all of the hats that I wear every day! I vow to take time each week (and I do now) to meditate, connect with a larger, greater picture of my life to get centered and present. I know that tuning into the intuition and energy that I am informed by will aid me in making important decisions in the new year that is guaranteed to be loaded with new adventures."

8. Commit to getting commitments.
National workplace columnist and career advisor Liz Ryan admits her resolution took her by surprise. "It's become evident that this year more than ever before, lots and lots of people are scared witless at the prospect of launching a job search. I wish I had seen that sooner. A job-search advisor like me needs not only to share tips, methods, and moral support, but to hold a job seeker to a set of commitments to overcome that 'Oh, goodness, no! Anything but more job-search activity!' inertia."

9. Find the 'hire' power.
Michelle Madhok, founder of, a popular online shopping blog, is not going to suffer poor performers and will take more time in trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. She says, "This year I will hire slow and fire fast. I will not settle for average employees!"

10. Avoid taking business matters personally.
Career coach Hallie Crawford, author of "Flying Solo: Career Transition Tips for Singles," was inspired by a key line from "The Godfather" film for her resolution. She says, "My resolution is to: Remember it's business, not personal. My peers', clients' or co-workers' decisions are not always about me as a person!"

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