A new year provides a fresh start. Leaders would do well to assess how they can be more effective in the coming year before getting overwhelmed by the day to day.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a restful, safe, and enjoyable holiday season. Now get back to work!
Not so fast. There’s still time to pause, catch your breath, and be thoughtful about how you want to tackle the year ahead. I enjoy the holidays because they offer time to reflect. The work world slows down for a few weeks and you can think about what went well that year, what didn’t go well, how you want to grow, and what you can do to improve yourself for the year ahead.
In the spirit of saving you some time in case you haven’t yet used the holiday period to be reflective, I’d like to offer a list of resolutions for the new year to get you started.
1. Take better care of yourself.
I’m eminently qualified to opine on this topic after having two heart attacks in the last few years. Changing lifestyle can be a struggle. You have to overcome excuses, give up things you enjoy (sweets, naps, sitting on the couch), and put in some effort. Trust me on this though – you’ll feel better and be more effective if you invest time and effort in taking care of yourself. Go get a physical. Know your numbers. Change your diet. Drop a few pounds (this one takes time and is a constant battle to eat right). Exercise – even if it’s only a 20 minute walk a few times a week. I’m a convert. I won’t say this is easy. It requires dedication. That said, it’s the sum total of small acts that will make a tremendous difference over time.
2. Stop blaming.
2016 was a brutal year for the blame game. “Oh your candidate did something bad!” “Oh yeah? Well your candidate did something bad too!” WHO GIVES A CRAP! Bad behavior is bad behavior. Someone else doing something bad doesn’t eliminate the first bad act. If you see someone do something bad (including yourself), fix the bad act. Look at it as an independent event instead of blaming others for doing other bad stuff so you can ignore your own “team’s” transgressions. If you do something bad, own up and fix it. It’s no one else’s fault that you did something wrong. When you hear others playing this blame game, shut it down immediately and get them to focus on fixing the observed bad behavior.
Stop shouting down perspectives you don’t agree with. Stop running stuff through a filter of whatever someone else says is wrong or offensive because it doesn’t match your worldview. Just shut up and genuinely listen. Hear what they’re saying. Try to understand where they’re coming from. There’s no monopoly on being right. It’s a matter of perspective. Expand your horizons and read perspectives you don’t agree with then try to understand why that person feels the way they do. When you isolate yourself in a bubble and scream at anyone who violates your bubble’s rules, you stagnate and miss opportunities to grow and make the world a better place.
4. Let the other car merge ahead of you.
I know you’re in a rush. So is everyone else. When people rush, they get frustrated and aggressive. Pause. Take a breath. Make someone else’s life a little less frustrating for just an instant. Let them merge ahead of you on the freeway. Wave a pedestrian on rather than rushing through that parking lot. Hold the door for someone. Let someone else get ahead of you in line. If all of us extend these small kindnesses we’ll learn the skill of putting others first and in the process make for a less angry world. By the way, this kind of behavior is contagious in either direction. Aggression begets more aggression and kindness generates more kindness. Be a leader and pick wisely.
5. Take a chance on someone.
Somewhere along the line, someone took a chance on you. They gave you a project you weren’t ready for. They put you in a role you had to grow into. They gave you a job even though you didn’t nail the interview. Resolve to create an opportunity for someone. Hire someone with no prior job experience. Give someone a project they’ll have to stretch into. You might create a star in the process and free yourself up to take on new challenges.
Pick a skill to build. Read a book outside your field of interest. Attend a cultural event. Go to an art show or museum. Listen to a new musician. Try a new hobby or sport. Just do something different and outside your mainstream activities. You might like it (or at least have facts to support why you don’t like it). You might meet someone new who expands your world. Try something new. It’s they best and fastest way to be more than you were the day before.
This isn’t a comprehensive list – obviously. It’s a start. I hope you’ll resolve to try some of these things. I’ve been working on all of them for a while and am happy with how I’ve changed because of them. Sure, they’re hard. But growth, health, and happiness are worth the effort.