This is the time of year to look back at accomplishments and to envision where we want to be at the end of next year. Even better though, is that it's the best time to think about investing in yourself. You'll note that these principles are for individuals, not organizations. Collective goals and resolutions are essential, but all change actually starts with people, not the abstractions we call organizations.
Appreciate everything you've accomplished in the past year. At this time of the year I sit down and make a list of everything I've changed and accomplished in the past year. The length of the list always surprises me, as it usually runs to over two pages. Sometimes the future can look daunting, but this process of considering achievements is encouraging and gives us the perspective to move forward.
Focus on yourself. You can't really change the behaviour or thinking of others. If you want different outcomes, you have to look at how and why you act and think, and then work on those aspects of your life.
Modify inputs and processes. The conventional wisdom is to set goals so you can achieve what you want. The problem is that if you don't know how to get there, you can still waste a lot of time and effort, and this can lead to discouragement. Look at what you need to get what you want, in terms of resources and processes, and then modify what you're doing and the way you're doing it so you have a better chance of reaching your objectives.
Invest in yourself. Financial planners like to remind everyone of the need to “pay ourselves first.” However, I've find that this applies as much to intellectual and emotional endeavours as it does to money and finances. You can also take a course, read different types of books, start writing, listen to great music, take a vacation, have some fine wine.
Take prudent risks. My business mentor, Alan Weiss, says, “If you're not failing, it's because you're not trying hard enough.” I've thought a lot about this idea of personal risk, and I've come to the conclusion that we tend to stay in a box of our own creation because we fear failure and the embarrassment we perceive will come with it. Resolve to expand the box and take a risk. Nobody is keeping score and any criticism you get from the peanut gallery is likely more for the benefit of the sender than the receiver in any case.
Resolve nagging conflicts once and for all. Interpersonal conflicts and toxic relationships literally poison our lives. Interpersonal conflicts arise from three main disagreements: about fundamental values, about goals, and about the ways of achieving the goals. If you value a relationship, try to resolve the conflict by looking at those three areas of disagreement. But if you can't reach an accommodation, it is better to move on and work and play with people who support you and your goals.
Take the initiative and keep it. As any military strategist or sports coach will tell you, you can't win by staying on the defensive. The only chance of success or victory comes from offensive action. Defensive action can buy you time, but you will eventually lose or fail in your undertakings. Offensive action is about seizing the initiative and keeping it. Find an area of your life—professional or personal—where you've let circumstances or other people dictate the terms of your behaviour or thinking and resolve to find a way around these obstacles. I'm not advocating attacking others or becoming aggressive, but rather taking the reins of your own life and business.
With that, I hope you've risen to the challenges and opportunities of 2011, and I wish you all the best for 2012.Back to newsletters