It’s a new year, which means a new you. No, I’m not asking you to start a gym membership (although the benefits of maintaining your health and wellness are well documented, but I digress…) instead I’d like you to evaluate three bad habits that almost everyone is guilty of and see if we can consciously start making improvements.

First, stop saying “I don’t have time to ___” and say “____ isn’t a priority” instead.

This is meant to be a proverbial mirror so you can reflect on what’s important. “I don’t have time to complete the reading assignment” becomes a lot more honest when you admit “The reading assignment isn’t a priority.” Making this change will not only help you realize if/when you’re stretched too thin but will encourage you to rearrange your activities so the most important things are what you devote your time to.

Second, stop making excuses.

Whenever you make an excuse, you are forcing the other person to forgive your error and you are less likely to change your actions. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry I’m late, I was….” try thanking the other person for their patience in waiting. We’re not perfect people, and it’s likely at some point we’ll have to rely on the kindness of others to help us out. So let’s acknowledge their actions, downplay our missteps, and move forward to productivity.

Third, get rid of victim language.

Victim language is a habit of speaking in which the speaker constantly implies he/she is a victim of circumstances. While similar to making excuses, victim language can be even more hazardous as it’s a flawed mentality. Do you blame the economy for why you can’t get a job? Have you insinuated your boss / teacher / parent is holding you back? If so, you are making yourself the victim. Now please don’t mistake this as saying privilege doesn’t exist, because it very much does. Rather, I’m asking you to understand what you do and do not have control over and to make an action plan to change the things you aren’t satisfied with.

By shifting the way we think and speak, we’re making ourselves more responsible professionals. Employers don’t want to hear why something can’t be done, so become the kind of person that focuses on solutions, rather than problems.