Doesn’t it feel good to turn the page to 2021? Perhaps not much has changed, but having a fresh start to the new year brings hope of better things to come.
In January, many of us set goals, intentions, or resolutions. While those practices are helpful and can set our path for a successful year, they can also create a sense of disappointment and failure if we don’t start the year perfectly and stick to our intentions. I personally set goals and intentions for the year, yet I know that I am human and will have setbacks and challenges. I have learned to shift from perfection and focus more on getting better every year.
For example—I planned a two-day juice detox on Monday, January 4th to start the new year. I completed a three-day juice fast in November that I completely stuck to and felt great. For this round, I stuck to the plan most of Monday until dinner. I gave in and had some *delicious* macaroni and cheese I made for my kids (homemade!). As I was dishing the mac-and-cheese onto my plate, I knew it was going against my goal. But my kids were unexpectedly home all day with virtual learning…and, well, I just needed some comfort.
You can say I failed at my first goal of the year, which I technically did. Since I am focused on the long game, I got right back up the next day and completed the fast. This past year, I have focused more on my health than the year before, so I am moving in the right direction. My goal is to improve every year, knowing that I will never reach perfection.
As the saying goes, progress over perfection.
This past month, there are several things that have had a positive impact on me and that are helping me to become better every day. There are many books, videos and practices that can support us in getting better and better.
- Hello, Fears: I saw the author of this book, Michelle Poler, speak (virtually) at the National Speakers Association in July and her talk was inspiring and empowering. Michelle set out to conquer 100 fears in 100 days and documented the process. I am almost finished with her book, and I can’t put it down—her lessons and strategies are fantastic, and just what most of us need to hear to get out of our comfort zone and create the best version of ourselves.
- Soul: If you haven’t seen Disney Pixar’s new movie, Soul, I highly recommend it! There are so many layers to this movie, including finding meaning in our lives. This touching story follows a jazz musician who thinks he has found his passion. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but if you’ve ever been told the key to happiness is finding your “purpose” or your “passion,” you may find this movie meaningful in more ways than one. Bring tissues.
- The Miracle Morning: I first read Hal Elrod’s book several years ago, and last month I read the Millionaire edition—The Miracle Morning Millionaire: What the Wealthy Do Before 8 AM. I’ve studied success for over 25 years, and one of the common habits of successful, productive people is that they have a morning routine that sets them up for the day. Truthfully, I love my sleep. Getting up early is not something I love to do. I won’t be joining The 5 AM Club (also a great book) anytime soon, however, I’ve been getting up 20 minutes earlier each day to meditate and read inspirational material (my favorites are Wayne Dyer’s You are What You Think, and John Maxwell’s Daily Reader).
- Disconnecting from Email: I love my work, and I strive to be responsive to my clients. There are often times when I am on vacation that I won’t actively be working, but I regularly check my emails. Can you relate? The challenge is that even if I’m in a tropical setting, when I’m checking emails, I feel a low-grade anxiety about what needs to get done. I find myself thinking about answering a quick email, or checking my calendar to see if I am free for a possible speaking engagement. Even though I’m technically on vacation, on some level I’m still working, so I am not fully resting and rejuvenating. In December, I took one week off and completely disconnected from email. The difference was amazing—after a couple of days, I didn’t have the nervous energy or anxiety about what I needed to do. I could actually be present and enjoy my vacation more. This isn’t the first time I have completely disconnected on a vacation, but truthfully, more times than not I still passively check emails. I’m now committed to completely disconnecting on my vacations going forward.
This strategy is not new or earth shattering, yet my experience is that most leaders are consistently tied to their work in some way, even on vacation. Even small requests can leave us feeling there are loose ends that need to be tied. If you are skeptical, just try it. And if you lead a team, encourage your employees to disconnect when they are on vacation so they can come back fully recharged. I felt so calm during my vacation that I started turning off my work emails at 6:00 during the week. This way, I am completely focused on my family and kids and my mental energy is not being pulled toward work.
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World: Have you ever had a day full of meetings, interruptions, issues, and emergencies and felt like you didn’t get any real work done? Me too. Most of us struggle to find time to focus on important work rather than urgent work. Cal Newport shares a better way to be productive and get great results. We all know we need to focus on high value work, yet it’s one of the top challenges most leaders struggle with. While I regularly schedule blocks of time to work on projects, this book inspired me to take it to a new level and prioritize more uninterrupted time so I can get more done in less time.
- Finally, I’m not typically one for sharing stories from Yahoo!, but this story describing answers a life coach received when she asked people to share how they knew their company workplace was toxic captured my attention. As leaders, we can all learn what NOT to do from many of these examples. Make sure you read all the way to the end—the last one is my favorite.
I’d love for you to share on the blog what has inspired you over the past few months to become better.
Here’s to a joyful, healthy, and successful 2021!