It's a shiny new year. Welcome aboard! Before we get swept into the swirl of busy let's think about how to keep the 'shine' on for the whole of the year ahead. As per tradition, I'll be asking you to reflect on your year past this time next year (see this year's 12 Qs). Let's make it a good one from the get-go!
What will you do to make 2016 a great year? How will you become the best version of yourself? What personal and professional goals/habits/intentions will set you off on the right path -- for greater resilience, efficacy, and fulfillment?
I've been giving this some thought and put together 11 ideas to boost your personal and professional well-being in the year ahead.
1. Stretch your mind: It's easy to get stuck in our routines and same old. This year, stretch yourself -- into new experiences and new learning. Take a course; learn a new skill; expose yourself to new ideas, thoughts and cultures. When you expand your experiences you broaden your perspective and grow yourself in the process. This, my friends, also creates new opportunities.
2. Stretch your body: Too much sitting and not enough moving. How many of us are complaining about sore backs and other creaky parts (boomers for sure but others I bet too). Not only do we need to move more -- we need to stretch. Take a yoga or stretch class or do it on your own. Either way do it regularly. Throw in some good core work too. Your back (whole body, mind and soul) will be very grateful to you for this.
3. Get small...set more tiny goals: So with all that expansion it's time to get small. With goals that is. Meaningful goals can energize and inspire you to be better and live a better life. But we need all kinds and all sizes of goals. Focusing only on big goals is a lost opportunity. Modest -- even tiny - goals can make a huge, powerful difference in your life. They can be part of larger goals or just be awesome on their own.
4. Write stuff down: The volume of stuff we attend to in any given day or moment is significantly greater than any other generational had to deal with before. Loaded to the tills, our mind FULL brains are not operating at optimum capacity. Trying to 'remember it all' is a first class ticket to overwhelm. So get smart and start writing more stuff down. Give yourself some ease -- read more in this article that is 'In defense of the lowly to do list'.
5. Get to know your brain: Never before has any generation had as much access to the insights and understanding that we have today about how are brains work. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to benefit from some basic neuroscience savvy. Yet despite knowing better, many of us still practise hard-wired habits that work against our brains. Because of this we add to our frazzle, stress and fatigue. Here's a very brief primer in my Huffington Post article "10 Brain Must Knows To Live and Work with More Ease".
6. Learn to be more flexible ...you will need to be more so than ever before. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, change will not only be constant it will come faster and more frequently. Survival of the fittest in work and life calls for us to be nimble and quick to adapt. Disruptive technologies and innovations will make the next 5-10 years (or sooner) almost unrecognize-able. If you are resistant to change you will find yourself on the sidelines. Practise flexible mindsets; be open to change; stay ready and be nimble. See more in this Tedx Toronto talk.
7. Connect: Work and life will get busier than ever this year for most. We already know how easy it is to get lost in the shuffle of 'doing'. Make sure you set intentions to connect more with people that matter to you. Your family, friends, career connections and new contacts and relationships that will contribute to your personal and professional well-being.
8. Sleep more and better: Have you heard the wake-up call on the sleep issue yet? In these days of persistent 'crazy busy' we're just not getting enough zzzs. This makes for a tired brain (body and soul too). We need more and better quality sleep to do the good work and live the good lives we really want to have. Set the intention to get better sleep. If you need help, get the support you need (nutritionists, health professionals, other).
9. Cultivate happiness: Increasingly science underscores the importance of cultivating positive habits. Those that do tend to reach for higher goals; achieve more; foster better relationships; and experience greater well-being across a spectrum of emotional, physical, and mental factors. Easier said than done? We are hard wired to default to negative emotions: we worry, fret, fear, regret -- and more. Yet with intention and good habits we can indeed rewire our brains and tendencies -- and create more happiness in our lives. Practice gratitude daily; laugh more; engage in stuff that interests and inspires you; use your strengths more; engage in meaningful pursuits -- and so much more.
10. Unplug: Intellectually I get how important it is to stop and completely unplug but who am I kidding -- I'm writing this post on the weekend! Okay, I'm also making time for other stuff with friends, family too. Still, I know that unplugging is increasingly more essential in our crazy, frenetic, info-loaded lives. I'm going to work harder at honouring this goal in 2016. How about you?
11. Reflect more: Hopefully this post has given you pause for reflection. Adding reflection to your days can significantly improve your self-awareness, efficacy, well-being and more. So do it more in 2016. You can start with the 12 Year-end Qs.
Wishing you a great start and robust year ahead with an abundance of success, ease, and well-being.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Take the time at the beginning of the year to go through your mailing lists and unsubscribe from all but the essentials, Lisa Gasson of New York suggests. It’s a good way to clear out inbox clutter, and also to reduce shopping temptation from constant emails from merchants. Try using Unroll.me to unsubscribe easily and keep things manageable going forward.
Take some of the time you spend mindlessly poking around on the internet and spend it with an actual book, says Megan Hamilton of Ontario. That’s her resolution for the coming year, and she’s solicited suggestions from friends for recent favourites to add her her library list.
After a couple of tough years for the her own health and that of her family, Carol-Ann Cole of Newfoundland and Labrador decided to cut out the little things she couldn’t control, including those to do with the lives of other people. "I try now to not gossip -- well, maybe just a little juicy stuff, ha ha -- and just live each day happy and healthy,” Cole says. "So far it’s working and I feel so much happier and contented."
Dry skin getting you down? That’s worth a small resolution all on its own, especially during Canada’s dry winters. "After making big, thought-out resolutions -- and then feeling stress and guilt about not keeping them -- about 15 years ago, I resolved to put lotion on everyday after showering,” says Erika Serviss-Low of the Yukon. “Easy to do, no guilt, and -- after scratching my skin raw and frantically searching for lotion by mid-day -- life changing."
Jenny Hinko Polischuk of Alberta picks a theme for her family for each year and focuses on that instead of a specific resolution. "Our theme was to 'CHOOSE HAPPY’!,” she says of their 2015 theme. "I got it printed in vinyl and put it up on a wall in our kitchen. I also found a great print on Etsy and framed it. To kick it off we brainstormed as a family situations where we consciously have to choose happiness. We put that up in our mud room about 3 feet high so my little women could see it."
Instead of picking a resolution that restricts or removes something, pick something that adds joy to your life. "I do ones that make me feel good, not that are challenges,” Julia Cain of New Jersey says of her resolutions. "'Say yes to travel,' for example, which will be a continuing resolution this year, or 'snuggle with babies as much as possible.’"
If you do want to make a list of things to accomplish this year, break it all into a very specific itemized list—maybe 101 items for the year, or a number that makes sense for you. "those worked really well because they were incremental and accumulative,” says Lisa Schmeiser of California of her itemized lists for the year, "so by the end of the year, I had momentum and completed tasks on my side."
"One of my students gave me great advice: Make three tiers of resolutions,” says Vanessa Vakharia of Ontario. Make the first tier something easy to immediately implement, like wearing eyeshadow or flossing daily. Get a bit higher-concept for tier two: a promise to run regularly, for example. And then think big for the third, like finishing your degree or planning a major trip. "I think it's a good way to level goals out so that you can get instant gratification, which motivates you to work towards those higher level goals,” she says.
"I don't know if they're resolutions, but every year I go back and assess how I'm doing as far as becoming the person I want to be,” says Carolyne Whelan. Think about how you respond to strangers, your friends and family, how you treat yourself, and the way you move about in the world. "Obviously there is a lot of tweaking, but since it's all a learning process with a wide curve, every year just presents the opportunity to be closer to the person I want to spend all my time with,” she says.
What’s something you enjoy, that is easy to do and adds a bit of light to your day? Pick something, then do more of it! "A few years ago, my only resolution -- after years of the same 'lose ten pounds, learn Spanish, write a novel' flailed if not failed -- was 'sing more,’” says Paige Conner Totaro of Virginia. "I did and it felt great. The next year it was 'dance more.’"
Is there something you need to do, even want to do, that you keep finding a way to get around or avoid or not actually work on? Stop doing that, and just do the work—every day, over and over, says Jennifer Polk of Ontario. You’ll get a lot more done if you put the energy you spend worrying, procrastinating, avoiding, and over-planning into just doing. "Everything's better when you do the work,” she says.
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