New year, new you – eight resolutions for public servants

A team of office workers throwing papers up in the air in celebration
  • Published Date: 25 January 2019

How is it the end of January already? Hopefully you had a refreshing break, have your feet back under the desk and are thinking about the year ahead.

And while your personal New Year’s resolutions may have already bitten the dust, it’s not too late to set some New Year’s resolutions for your job.

The ANZSOG thinktank has come up with a list to make you a fitter, happier, more productive public servant in 2019.

Declutter your work

Thanks to Marie Kondo and her mantra of decluttering, charity bins are overflowing and millions of people have successfully reorganised their sock drawers.

Why not apply the decluttering concept to your work? We’re not just talking about tidying your desk (although it might not be a bad idea) but cutting out the superfluous tasks and distractions. Clear some space in your diary, get rid of the work habits that are wasting your time, and shift your focus from the urgent to the important.

It’s unlikely that everything you do “sparks joy”, as Ms Kondo suggests, but why not identify what does and seek opportunities to do more of it?

Set some goals

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Don’t just drift along; think about where you and your team want to be at the start of 2020, work out what you need to do to get there, and make a plan. Even if you only achieve some of your goals, that’s still progress. 

Save money

This isn’t just for home. How can you improve public value or enhance efficiency and effectiveness of existing programs? How could improvements or savings be deployed to benefit the common good? Set a savings goal. And most importantly, stick to it.

Get healthy

Diets? No thanks. It’s time to put 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?

Challenge yourself

Don’t get stale. This might be as simple as reading a book that you wouldn’t normally read and assess its application to your work or goals this year. 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. Seek out new people to work with who challenge your assumptions.


Don’t sit and wait for your career to progress; get the knowledge and skills you need now for the position or role that you want. Perhaps it’s time to expand your thinking, boost your professional toolkit or plug gaps in your knowledge. ANZSOG’s workshops might be a good place to start.

Get motivated

Now is a good time to remind yourself of what you love about your job, and why you joined the public service. Find a quote that captures your passion, stick it to your screen or cubicle to remind yourself why you are doing what you do. It’s simple but effective.


Peace of mind is everything, so if your jurisdiction is facing an election this year, 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.