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ANZSOG’s 2022 New Year’s Resolutions for public servants

1 February 2022

News and media


Image of person taking a leap


If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that the best laid plans can go astray.

Nevertheless, if you want to make 2022 your best and most productive year yet, you’ll need a plan.

While your personal New Year’s resolutions may have bitten the dust, now is the perfect time to shake things up at work and make sure the ‘new normal’ works for you.

It’s been a mixed couple of years for Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand’s public servants. For many, reserves of resilience have been worn down as people were required to step outside their comfort zone and work more intensely and tackle the huge policy and implementation challenges of the pandemic. And that’s without taking into account the challenges of working from home while looking after children.

On the other hand, many have felt proud to be part of Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand’s successful responses to the challenges of COVID and believe they have done some of the most important work of their careers. The rapid changes, and the ability of many organisations to innovate, made many question their assumptions and think more creatively about how they and their organisations work and deliver value to the public.

As the Omicron wave breaks across most of Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand, it’s hard to predict where 2022 will take us, but here are a few workplace ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ from ANZSOG and some ideas to build on your achievements and make the most of 2022.

Get your goals sorted

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. The last few years have seen the world turned upside down, but to achieve what you want, you need to plan. Think about where you want to be this time next year, talk to the people who can help you achieve it, and set some tangible, achievable goals.

Lose some weight

No, not the gym, we’re talking about trimming the fat from your diary. Let’s focus on cutting out the extraneous tasks and distractions that are diverting you from your key goals or vision for the year. Pencil in some thinking time so you can focus on what is essential, not what’s urgent.

Communicate better

The shift away from communicating face-to-face, to communicating online was a difficult one for many people, and one that underscored the importance of communication skills for public servants. As we move to a mix of face-to-face and online work, it might be time to brush up your communication skills and think about your words (written and spoken) can have an impact. ANZSOG’s Dr Zina O’Leary has some ideas about how you can make sure your communication has impact, online and offline.

Be more innovative

COVID-19 has shown that public services need innovation – so why not be the person who makes a difference by turning good ideas into reality? US Professor Beth Noveck has some ideas about the skills and mindset that public servants need to become innovators. And why problem solvers are vital to making government better.

Challenge yourself

Find a stretch assignment that puts you in a part of the public service you’re unfamiliar with. Volunteer for tasks you would normally avoid. Read a book that you usually wouldn’t read and see how it might apply to your work or goals this year. Think about ways you or your department can save money, do things differently or build on the innovation that you saw happen in response to COVID-19


Don’t just wait for your career to progress; get the knowledge you need for the position or role that you want. If you are ambitious, perhaps it’s time to gain some further executive education? ANZSOG has a range of workshops and programs, as well as our Future public sector leaders series which can expose you to new skills and fresh thinking.

Look after yourself

It’s a long year, and you’ll be in better shape to tackle it if you spend some time getting physically and mentally ready. While fulfilling work gives meaning and value to your life, cemeteries are full of indispensable people. Technology has made it harder to switch off from work, but you’ll be happier and more productive if you set boundaries, know when to say ‘no’ and make time for family, friends, exercise and anything else that brings you joy.

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