Whether you're rushing to finish up annual reviews, planning the family New Year's party, or just generally bombarded with December craziness, there's no doubt everyone has their eye on the New Year. January symbolizes an exciting fresh start, and we often can't help but make lofty goals and feel bolstered by newfound energy to take on the world.

This energy is great, but come February or March, many of us have already lost that New Year's drive. If you want to be super-strategic when it comes to setting New Year's resolutions, it's time to pay attention to the professionals. There is a science to everything, including happiness, success, and productivity. Whatever your goals are, take a moment to research how to best approach them.

To get you started, here are 2016's biggest scientific findings about success:

1. Success isn't all about talent.

In her new book Grit, psychologist Angela Duckworth investigates the characteristics of people who achieve great things. She finds that being successful isn't all about having the right genius and talents. It has much more to do with grit--a unique blend of passion and perseverance. The great news is that your ability to achieve doesn't depend on what you were born with; if you want to be successful, you can stop focusing on your natural talents and start developing your grit.

2. Impostor Syndrome is more harmful than we thought.

Most of us have suffered at one point or another from impostor syndrome--the idea that we achieved our success through fraud, by passing ourselves off as more capable than we truly are. For years we thought this was simply a confidence issue. But a new study by Mirjam Neureiter and Eva Traut-Mattausch found that those with higher levels of impostor syndrome tend to have lower salaries and fewer promotions. Impostor syndrome isn't just something you feel--it can have lasting effects on your career. Now is the time to work through your impostor syndrome and know your worth.

3. Curiosity is more important than knowledge.

A new study found that more dispositionally curious people are better at overcoming biases than less curious people. This expands on the research of Dan M. Kahan, who found that both conservatives and liberals tend to engage in politically motivated reasoning, in which they process information in a way that fits their previously held political views--even if it means ignoring new information. This new study showed that curious people are more willing to read articles that don't fully affirm their world view. This curiosity counteracts the negative effects of politically motivated reasoning.

4. Success is more correlated with productivity, not age.

In a recent study on scientific impact, researchers studied the patterns of breakthrough success in 2,856 physicists. They found that success did not depend on age. The likelihood of making an "impactful" contribution to their field--a breakthrough study that was covered by the media and/or frequently cited in future papers--was higher in physicists who were generally more productive. They ran more experiments during their careers and focused on spending lots of time with their work. This is great news: don't worry about not reaching breakthrough success at a young age. Instead, focus on the work and make time for what matters to you.

Published on: Dec 5, 2016