American’s New Year’s Resolutions Indicate an Optimistic Outlook

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A new year is upon us.  For many, that means a raft of resolutions, both professional and personal. Recently, Adecco conducted a survey of American professionals from a broad range of demographics, wage brackets, and career levels. Adecco posed questions about career and personal goals, work/life balance, and even the actual likelihood of keeping New Year’s resolutions. The results show an overwhelming belief that personal life is more important than work, but that it often takes a back seat when stress at work begins to mount.

The year that was 2012…

The survey was careful to delineate between personal and professional resolutions. A majority of those polled said they had successfully kept their personal resolutions for 2012, though far fewer had held true to their professional goals for the past year. These findings may come as a surprise, especially considering that those polled showed a startling degree of difficulty in keeping professional and personal lives separate. The study reveals a culture that prizes personal endeavors, but rarely makes them a priority.

51% of respondents reported that they had achieved their personal resolutions for 2012, while only 18% could say the same for their professional resolutions. A further 30% said that they had accomplished neither their professional nor personal resolutions. (A remaining 22% reported that they had made no resolutions of any sort.)

These findings are further supported by an overwhelming belief that personal life takes precedence over careers, but that personal lives are frequently neglected when work beckons. 68% agreed that their personal life was more important, but 23% said that professional pressures had caused them to neglect their lives outside of work.

Looking Ahead: 2013

Americans are an optimistic bunch. 75% said that they don’t believe that personal life will prevent them keeping professional goals in 2013. Almost as many (72%) said that work was not likely to prevent them from keeping  their personal resolutions. The survey also revealed professional goals were less likely to be attained than personal ones.  80% of respondents said they would be more likely to accomplish their personal resolutions, while a far lower 20% believed they would be more likely to keep their professional resolutions.

However, when it comes what gets prioritized when things get hectic, the stresses of professional life often take precedence over personal matters. According to the survey, Americans are mostly likely to say that stress at work (40%) or the often-punishing demands of long hours would prevent them achieving their personal resolutions. 42% of respondents also said that unhealthy lunch options or the easy availability of unhealthy snacks at work were likely to be a hindrance. Meanwhile, a stalwart 32% said that no work-related factors would come between them and their personal goals.

So where does this drive to prioritize work over personal life come from? As James Carville once said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” 60% said that making more money was a top priority. 62% also stated that family dependencies and unstable economic conditions meant that job security was a definite concern. Only 12% reported that work itself was the source of this pressure.

All told, the survey paints a familiar picture. Americans prize personal life over work, but are overwhelmingly susceptible to the latter’s pressures in daily life. A turbulent economy and a drive to earn more can lead to work bleeding into personal life, while the opposite rarely occurs. Still, the survey shows a highly optimistic attitude among America’s professionals: still driven, still determined, and still working hard to grab hold of that next rung on the ladder.

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