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Ten New Year’s resolutions for public servants

5 February 2020

News and media


Female standing on a mountain with her arms up in the air. Happiness, motivation and feeling good concept.

Can you believe it’s February already?

School holidays are over and work is back in full swing. While your personal New Year’s resolutions may have bitten the dust, there’s still time to set a new course at work for the new decade.

We’ve come up with a series of ideas to help you make the most of 2020.

Set some goals

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. 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.

Get motivated

Remind yourself why you work in government or policy work. Find a quote or mantra that captures your passion for why you turn up to work each day. Set up some reminders of great work you and your team did that made a difference. Stick them to your screen or cubicle, and remind yourself each morning why you do what you do.

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. Focus on what is essential, not what’s urgent.

Get healthy

It’s time to get your integrity on the scales. Take a closer look at your personal ethics and cross-check them against your agency. What areas need strengthening or more attention? What practical steps can you take to enhance integrity and ethical practice in the public purpose sector?

Save money

This one works at home or in the office. What ways can you find to improve public value or enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of existing programs? How could improvements or savings be redeployed to benefit the common good? Set a goal. Stick to it. Talk to others about what you could do collectively to make it a priority.

Embrace diversity

A lot of public sector workplaces talk about diversity but few are making it work. What can you do to make your workplace more inclusive for staff with diverse backgrounds and experiences? Why not make an effort to celebrate holidays from different cultures or organise a lunch where people bring meals from their home or heritage? Learn about the First Nations history of your area and learn some greetings or other words in the local language. Look into cultural competency or diversity training.

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 innovate – your boss may be impressed!


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? Here’s a good starting point: ANZSOG Workshops


Peace of mind is everything, so if you work in Queensland or New Zealand, or any other jurisdiction facing an election in 2020, be prepared by reading up on caretaker conventions and do some strategic work on transitions so you have things prepared and on hand for a potential new government.

And finally….

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.

Have a great 2020.