Did you do any New Year’s rituals or activities to get prepared for 2015? The case on resolutions is mixed, with some statistics showing that 92% of people do not keep them, though other studies have shown over 40% success after 6 months. Some may feel more comfortable setting intentions or goals for the year ahead, which are well-articulated and focused on process and small steps. Look back and reflect on your accomplishments in 2014. Celebrate your successes and decide what you want more of in your life. You can pick a word or a quote for the year. You can also do a vision board or create a container for notes about gratitude or happiness.
I must admit, this year I’ve done a bunch of these. I’ve been revising my business plan in a marketing program and working on my goals for the coming year.
I’m attending a vision board workshop, where we'll create collages with words and images that reflect what we want in the year ahead. I bought a bunch of fun stickers for that and a New Year's craft project with my family.
Yeah, I’m serious about laying things out and creating a solid plan for 2015.
Another thing that caught my eye on New Year's Day was a hashtag on Twitter: #3words. Basically a challenge to come up with 3 words that you want to define your year.
After some deliberation, I decided on Focus, Enrichment and Gratitude (Persistence and Compassion are runners up). And here’s why:
Focus: Candidly, this is one of my big challenges. While I like to “focus” on my strengths, I don’t always focus on the tasks I need to complete. I am a notorious multi-tasker, even though I know I do better work when I’m doing one thing at a time. I’m also easily distracted by social media (I’m a fun-loving, relationship-oriented extrovert, after all), which can really wreck my – ahem – focus.
One thing that worked for me last year was using a version of the Pomodoro Technique – choosing a simple task to accomplish and working on it for 25 minutes before taking a 5 minute break; then coming back for another 25. The trick is to do this with minimal distractions and work only on that one task. It’s amazing how much more I can accomplish when I close my browser and email program and put my phone on airplane mode. I may need to get a picture of a tomato for my vision board….
Enrichment: Are you a lifelong learner? If you're reading this, chances are yes! I’m always taking a class or reading an article or going to a show or something that enriches me. I’m also keen to enrich others, which is why I love being a trainer and coach. As a result, enrichment seemed like a good word for the year.
After last year’s enriching experience of taking a writing and acting class, one way I've decided to flex my creative muscles this year is by taking a watercolor painting class. I’m really excited to see what I can create under the expert direction of a local artist. Here’s what I came up with just playing around in her studio over the weekend.
Gratitude: As a student of positive psychology, I’ve been delighted to see the explosion of research over the past few years around gratitude and other positive emotions. There’s an entire research institute at UC Berkeley devoted to understanding how experiences like gratitude, compassion, altruism and happiness are related to education, relationships, career and health. It's so simple yet so powerful.
Even though it seems simple, we are so focused on fixing problems that we're not always grateful for our accomplishments or even the little things that lift us up. This year, I'm working to keep gratitude front and center for myself, my family, my colleagues and clients. I like the following quote too.
"Everyone wants to be appreciated. So if you appreciate someone, don't keep it a secret." -- Mary Kay Ash, Entrepreneur
Last week I went to a local craft store and spent some time in the scrapbook supply aisle with all the stickers (holy cow!!). About $50 later, I was out of the store with sticker sheets in themes I knew would appeal to my family: musical notes, guitars, graduation symbols, inspiring quotes, and more. We sat down and decorated our jars and have been doing a pretty good job reminding each other to add a note every day. As a new habit, it might take some time for us to keep up, but we're working on it!
If you're feeling you'd like a little extra help working on your goals, visit my website to download your free workbook, “Strengths-Based Goal Setting.” This series of questions and activities will get you thinking about your goals through the lens of your past successes, strengths and achievements. Check it out!
What are the #3words you'd choose to define 2015? What other steps have you taken to prepare for the New Year? Comment below!