Here’s an inspiring alternative to New Year’s resolutions that we’ve been getting great results from year after year. If the word “resolutions” makes you think of struggle and obligation, but you still want a fresh start in the new year…
…take the time to do this exercise, ditch your mindset of resolutions, and see the results that follow. Here’s to your best year yet!
1. Decide on a Theme for the New Year
Your theme is your focus for the year. It can be anything from business growth to personal rejuvenation to smart financial decision-making to being known for a special talent that you want to demonstrate or that you’d like to acquire.
Themes sound like this: “This is the year of… “ or “This is the year for…” You can also use a more personalized statement, such as: “This is my year for…” Here are a few examples: This is my year for “…going where I’ve never gone before.” “…being deliberate.” “…being smart about money.” “…adding joy to my everyday life.” “…taking center stage.” “…family and fun.” “…getting my life in order.” “…making a difference in my community.” “…moving up in my career.” “…taking the stress out of life.”
It was reported last week that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is now using meditation to help him make better decisions. He might not be at the top of your list of leadership role models, considering the amount of commentary about the room he reportedly uses for meditating at work as well as the ongoing reports of problematic behavior and practices at his company.
But his example is the latest in a growing list of business leaders who are looking to meditation to improve their effectiveness — a list which includes execs at Salesforce, Medtronic, and Google.
Do you know how to order up your future self with the same ease and assurance with which you order food from a restaurant menu? My friend Amy does and she proved it to me recently.
Amy wrote a vision of her future self several years ago as a participant in a program led by Denise Brouillette. This week Amy was looking at past program materials and unearthed her vision for her future self and emailed it to me. I was gobsmacked when I read it because it’s pretty much EXACTLY what Amy’s life is now, and has been for over 5 years, and not at all what her life was like when she wrote it.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my mother and me. We took it in October 2015 at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. An ussie.
Many of you know that LeaderXpress founder Denise Brouillette (photo, right) passed away in February of this year after contending with an aggressive form of cancer for over two years. Denise was my mother and we worked together at LeaderXpress for the better part of two decades. Here at LeadershipYourWay.com, and previously at DeniseBrouillette.com, Denise blogged regularly, sharing tips and insights on influence and leadership that people could put into action right away.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I blog about this each year at this time. I don’t set resolutions because they put me in a mindset of struggle and hardship and they rarely work. At the Intentions Event that I’ve been leading in Silicon Valley for 16 years, we do an inspiring process as an alternative to resolutions, and it gets great results. Here it is:
Over 1000 studies on meditation have shown its positive physical and mental effects and its profound impact on attitude and behavior. Countless articles, blog posts, and books extoll the virtues of what up to 20 minutes of meditation per day can do for us. Will meditation calm frazzled nerves, keep us cool and composed when the going gets tough, give us sharper concentration, make us better listeners, and possibly improve our health and overall well-being? In a word, yes.
I was just talking with a VP of Engineering who wants to shift his approach to interacting with his direct reports. He’s smart, he has opinions, and he’s rarely wrong in his area of expertise. But he realizes that simply telling his people what to do isn’t nearly as useful as helping them figure out for themselves the best next course of action.
And while there may be an appropriate time and place for saying, “Do xyz,” in most conversations, drawing out others’ thinking and helping them see the next best route for themselves is a better way for this leader to develop his people. But that means he has to change his behavior, and that takes some effort and concentration – at least at first.
In my previous post I discussed the brain science of behavior change, and why understanding the neuroscience helps leaders make the change process easier. In this current post I’m talking about the phases of change — because understanding these phases also makes the process easier.
“It’s really difficult to just be quiet and listen.” Several people have contacted me about my recent post about extrovert communication mistakes, and the majority response to the post has been that it’s great advice, but it’s hard to make a change in behavior.
In that post I discuss the common mistake of asking a question of someone you’re in a conversation with to get their input, but then not waiting for their answer before barreling ahead (however well meaningly) with answers of your own or even more questions. My advice in the post is to ask the question then just stay quiet and listen until the other person is finished speaking.
Behavior Change Involves Brain Change
Making such a change sounds simple, but people have been trying it and finding that it’s not coming as naturally or as easily as they wish. And I understand this feeling from personal experience, as well. Behavior changes can be difficult, awkward, and exhausting. But because there are points in our professional lives for all of us when a behavior change becomes necessary or beneficial, we find a way to do it.
Positive Psychology is “the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.” The field holds some pretty significant values and beliefs, namely that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, we want to cultivate what is best within ourselves, and we want to enhance our experience of life overall (University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center).
Small Acts Make a Big Difference
An element of Positive Psychology is finding activities that we can do on a regular basis that have been shown in study after study to contribute to overall well-being. Some of those things are daily rituals that we can establish for ourselves.