When we set our New Year resolutions, they’re often about achieving particular goals. Whether it’s nailing that particular promotion, or just shifting a few pounds, we tend to think about the end result rather than the behaviours we exhibit in order to get there.

For me, though, I’ve chosen to think about things a bit differently as we’ve headed into the start of 2018. I’ve decided to focus less on what it is that I’m doing, and more on how I’m doing it. These are the ten things I’m going to do more of in 2018… and I hope that they might inspire some of you to do the same.

#1 Listen

Generally, as we move further up the organisational hierarchy, we get better at speaking, but forget to also remember to listen. In 2018 I’m going to actively seek to listen more. I believe that if we all spent more time listening, we’d far better understand each other, which would lead to fewer crossed wires and more aligned collaboration in pursuit of our mutual goals.

#2 Ask: ‘How Are You?’

And not simply ask it, but – to put #1 into practise – listen to the answer. So many people suffer in silence from mental health issues because no one takes the time to ask them how they are. This year, I won’t simply be going out of my way to ask people how they are, I’m going to be really listening to how they respond… and encouraging them to seek any support that they might need.

#3 Shadow

I’m a firm believer that all of us, regardless of how many years we’ve been employed, could and should know our businesses better. When we understand all aspects of our organisation – not just the department that we work in – then we better understand how to make the right decisions for the good of all, as opposed to thinking purely from our own perspective. I’m going to be actively booking out time to shadow all of our departments across Benefex, hoping to learn from what people in those departments are doing, and the challenges they face.

#4 Speak Up

This might sound contradictory to #1, but in actual fact, doing #1 will enable me to do far more of #4. When you properly listen, you have the information and the evidence you need to speak up with authority, as opposed to doing so for the sake of it. In 2018 I’m going to make sure I speak up for what I believe is right, and do so on behalf of those who might feel less able to.

#5 Delegate

When done properly, delegation benefits you, the person you’re delegating to, and also the wider business. I am definitely guilty of clinging on for too long to tasks which could help some of my team to develop, and I’m going to make sure that I proactively delegate some of these this year.

#6 Support

Generally, more of our time as managers is spent on managing task than it is spent managing our people, helping them to grow and develop. In 2018 I’m going to make an effort to consciously shift this, and spend more time supporting those that I work with, coaching and mentoring them to enable them to achieve their personal and role-specific objectives.

#7 Develop

The further I get into my career, the worse I become at taking time away from the day to day to develop my own skills. Time on our own personal development is always the hardest to carve out, but it’s also the time which can most benefit not just us but also the organisation we work for. This year, I’m going to get better at putting myself first.

#8 Pause For Thought

I work at ninety miles an hour and I’m incredibly impulsive by nature, which means that I can often jump in with a proposed solution without truly thinking through the issue. I’m going to be making an effort to curb this slightly, so that I can ensure I’ve come up with the right answer, as opposed to the first one that’s come into my head!

#9 Switch Off

This age of technology is both a blessing and a curse. It allows us to work flexibly like never before, seamlessly integrating our work and home lives, but it can also mean that we run the risk of never stopping. This hit home to me towards the latter end of last year, when my daughter said to me: “Are you going to properly read to me tonight, or will you just be pretending and doing your work emails instead?” I’m sure I will always work slightly unorthodox working hours, and be on my emails at all hours of the day and night… but I am going to set aside time with my children when I really do properly switch off also.

#10 Smile

Possibly the biggest difference any of us could make to our working lives in 2018. It’s about mindset. If we start the day feeling annoyed, frustrated and defeated, it’s going to be written all over our face from the moment we walk through the door and is going to influence how all of our colleagues feel also. By contrast, if we start the day with a smile on our faces – and no, it won’t always come naturally: sometimes we’ve got to ‘fake it to make it’! – it’s quite staggering how that can impact on both how we feel, and how everyone else feels and behaves as they see us walk into the room and greet everyone with a cheery ‘hello’.

If I do nothing else in 2018, I’m going to smile more. And that’s one New Year’s Resolution that, unlike losing a few pounds or always remembering people’s birthdays… I know I really can keep.