Back in the days of sleepaway camp, we had cheesy themes for each summer: “Super great in ’88.” “Feeling fine in ’89.” You get the picture. With that in mind, why not aim to be “supreme in ’17.”
We leave each year committed and convinced—or at least hopeful—that we are going to be better versions of ourselves the following year. Sometimes we thrive in the new year, and sometimes our resolutions fall short. While I am not a believer in earth-shattering resolutions, I am committed to making small and consequential changes on a daily basis. With that in mind, here’s some small ideas to implement into your 2017 that just may lead to big results in all that you do.
Commit to clear communication
This means that you say or write what you are thinking in the most concise and articulate manner possible. Sounds easy, but it’s hard! If you ever wonder why you struggle with writing, it’s because writing involves thinking. To write clearly you have to think clearly. So if that email or presentation that you have to prepare is coming out garbled, pause. Think about what you want to say. Consider the audience; reflect on the message you wish to convey. Ponder possible tones and styles to convey your message: straight forward? Metaphorically? A tinge of humor? Once you are clear, then write it out. It takes only a few moments to hit pause and think before you speak or write. Take those moments!
On the topic of communication, grammar plays a role. While you may think it doesn’t matter, there’s always going to be someone it does matter to, and wrong grammar screams: sloppy, lazy, I don’t care to take the time to look something up! The biggest grammar crime I see on LI and other social media platforms: commas and periods outside of quotation marks. Sure, there’s instances in which semi colons, question marks, or exclamation marks go outside of quotation marks, but commas and periods ALWAYS go inside of quotation marks. “Learn how to employ grammar when it comes to using quotes for 2017,” she said. “Do not be guilty of this crime”.
Your body and your mind need to stretch on a daily basis. Read. Get physical. Read while getting physical a la audio books and pod casts. (I am glad to offer suggestions!) Daily sweat sessions spark creativity and innovation. If you find yourself reaching for coffee cup after coffee cup before 10 a.m. arrives, give morning exercise a try.
A 30-minute run, bike ride, cardio class, or weight-lifting session may shock you in terms of the energy and boost you receive and the uplifting repercussions it supplies throughout your day. If you need to study, learn something new, or prepare a presentation and you find yourself struggling, go out for a 30-minute walk; jog a few miles. You will be amazed at how it not only rejuvenates your body, but sharpens your mind and helps you to focus, too.
Practice compassion, empathy, and kindness. Doesn’t it feel great when someone acknowledges you in a kind way? It feels the same for others, too! People remember kind acts. Complement your boss or your team mates when they accomplish something meaningful, or even a simple task. Notice people for who they are and what they do. Be inclusive. Don’t dislike people because of how they look, act, or what they say. Remember that we are all works in progress and we all have good and bad days. Aim to like everyone in some way. It doesn’t mean you have to buddy up with them, it just means avoid exerting the mental energy to dislike them.
A few years back I read an article in which author Judy Blume mentioned keeping a baby picture of her husband on her desk. Whenever she got annoyed with him, looking at that baby picture softened her up. Maybe try imagining what someone looks like as a baby if you feel yourself growing unkind towards them!
Take a class – there are tons offered each week and month via Coursera, Udacity, and other Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms. You can take anything from Principles of Philosophy hosted by University of Edinburgh to an Accounting course offered by University of Michigan.
Sign up and train for a marathon or triathlon. Join CrossFit. Plan an excursion to some faraway destination solo. Write an article; take rock climbing lessons. Do something scary. It will force you to stretch yourself in new ways, and stretching yourself leads to growth, self-awareness, and may add some fun and excitement to your life, too.
Do one new thing a day/week/month
Change is good and it leads to growth. Drive a new route to work. Visit a different museum each weekend. Walk to work or the supermarket versus driving – take the scenic route. Eliminate one negative word a week from your vocabulary. Quit gossiping. Implement daily time-outs during which you go off the grid (no phone, email, text, social media). The goal is to break free from mundane and mindless routines. When we disrupt the mundane aspect of our lives, it’s amazing how we open ourselves up to creativity, self-discovery, and a sense of excitement.
Draw, dance, paint, sing, act, write –find an outlet to let your creative self shine through. Why? It feels good! Make jewelry, paint your toenails, or better yet, your bedroom wall. Don’t cut creativity out because you don’t have time or think of it as silly. Creativity enables us to nourish our mind and soul. It is what helps us to uncover our unique selves. You can get creative alone, or make it a bonding experience with friends, family, or spouses.
In our always-on world, it’s hard to know what one is thinking or feeling. Solitude is a magical space in which you get to turn off to the world and tune into yourself. Commit to daily solitude. It can occur during a run, journaling, or walking home from work. It’s in our solitude that we tend to think, not think, and sometimes ask ourselves the big and small questions that we do not always get to tackle in the rush of daily living. Make time to be with yourself, even if that means blocking 15-minutes a day in your work schedule to have an appointment with yourself. It’s often via solitude that we hear our inner voice.
What are your big or small plans for 2017?