The new year usually brings the promise of new beginnings, but this time around it felt a little more like Groundhog Day.

Omicron saw us revert to working from home, turned city centres into ghost towns again, and saw the return of social distancing measures.

This inevitably impacted a range of businesses that had been hoping the festive period and the start of the year would mark the road to recovery.

For some people it has also affected personal goal setting – which I learned first-hand as one of the one in 15 who caught Covid over the holiday period.

I’m thankful it wasn’t too serious, but it still took its toll.

At this time of year, I usually scrutinise my daily habits, examine what I need to do differently, think about the person I want to be, and start putting in the work to achieve my goals.

None of that happened.

Even the healthy habits I’ve adopted for most of my adult life were shelved and my morning routine became getting up, coughing, making tea and going back to bed.

When I started to feel a little better, I tuned into Netflix or revisited the Harry Potter films.

Not really “leadership behaviour”, is it?

Then some guilt set in as I thought about all the things I should be doing.

But I remembered the advice I’d given out to the many business leaders I’ve coached over the years. When they talked about what they “should” be doing, I challenged them and reminded them they can’t always be guided by others’ expectations.

We need to take the time to tap into our own needs, and sometimes that means giving ourselves permission to relax and not necessarily be highly productive and effective.

When our bodies tell us to slow down it’s essential that we listen or we’re classic candidates for burnout.

And as they say in the safety instructions on flights, we need to “put our own oxygen mask on first”, to enable us to help those around us.

It can be difficult to persuade leaders of this, because while they’re excellent at dispensing advice, they don’t always follow it themselves.

Those lucky enough to have teams around them need to put faith in their people when they’re not there.

Those who don’t must remind themselves they can’t do everything all the time – there’s value in taking a step back.

I’m not just talking about sick leave here.

This also applies to holidays which provide vital time to recharge, reflect and re-evaluate.

Taking some down time is a good habit to get into.

Which reminds me … I’ve not allocated myself any holidays for 2022 so I’ll make that my first resolution of the year.

If you’re looking for some inspirational reading to kick off your year, I’d recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear.

It has been described as the “definitive guide on habit change” and is an engaging and motivating read for those who want to adopt new healthy habits and ditch some bad ones.

It advises us not to break the chain if we’re truly trying to form a habit, and I agree to an extent.

But I’d also offer a quiet word of caution.

If you do break your habit once in a blue moon, please don’t beat yourself up about it or throw in the towel.

That way of thinking is probably why so many well-intentioned new year’s resolutions fail.

Draw a line under it, start again, persevere and your resolution will become a habit before you know it.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network for CEOs