Monday, January 30, 2012

Take a Mulligan!

You diligently set your New Year's Resolution(s).  It's a new year coming up and you have BIG plans.  But... as it seems to happen every year, life gets in the way, the plans seem a little too big, a little too much to plan into your day and you quickly spiral into a feeling of overwhelm.  The resolutions get shelved, you feel like a quitter and start wondering if the whole new year will treat you the same.  You start looking forward to next January when you feel you will have the opportunity to 'start fresh'!

Sound familiar?  I have been hearing some version of the above this week from clients who have found that the month has slipped by without them managing to push their resolutions ahead.  Their solution of course is to abandon them entirely.  Instead... take a Mulligan and start again.  In my world it's called a Do-Over!

What did you learn this month about the goals you set?  Were they too large and impractical right out of the gate?  Then make them smaller.  Smaller steps will lead to successes and move you forward.  It might take a little longer but it gets you there just the same.  Certainly if your current option is to abandon your goals until 'next year'... all those small steps taken cumulatively over the remaining year will have you significantly further ahead than simply abandoning the goal altogether.  Don't under-estimate the motivational power of even small steps forward.  As you begin to see progress you might just find bigger steps easier to take.  Often just starting is the hardest part.  If setting smaller goals up front gets you over the fear of starting something new then build that into the plan!

So.  It's a New Month.  Begin again.  Learn from last month and apply it to this month.  Try 'Different'.  If this plan isn't working for you then break it down smaller, take a Do-Over and begin again.  Don't wait for a New Year, a New Month, or even a New Week!

It's not quitting to start over.  But not beginning is.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Improve your Health - To Increase your Success!

We all know - intellectually at least - the benefits of a balanced diet and exercise to our over-all health and well-being. They serve to: lower the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and strokes, reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and stress, boost the immune system and brain function.

Generally speaking though, this is a business blog. I share information, tips and techniques you can use to aid you in your career journey. What does your health have to do with your success? A great deal, as it turns out. Here are my Top 3 reasons why you should focus on Improving your Health to increase your Success:

1. I've written in this blog before about the benefits of focusing on increasing the energy you bring to your tasks in order to heighten your productivity, as opposed to focusing on strengthening your organizational skills to get more done. (see: Turning Energy into Time, March, 2010). Research is now conclusively demonstrating that the quality of the energy we put into our tasks and activities has a direct correlation to the quality of the output. Want to accomplish more in less time? Forget about managing your time better, manage your energy better! The healthier you are (through effective nutrition and exercise), the higher the quality of energy you bring to your tasks. Tasks don't drag out as long, you don't waste as much time trying to motivate yourself to get started (yep, procrastination has some foundations in energy as well!) and you're able to stick to tasks a little longer.

2. Guess what? You're smarter when you're healthier. No... your IQ doesn't increase, but your mental acuity, your clarity and focus of thought is heightened. In short... you make better decisions when you are rested, healthy and alert. Yes, I know this seems to make common sense, but we don't tend to openly acknowledge that what we put into our bodies, what we do to our bodies, has an impact on the quality of our thoughts and decisions, and we certainly don't hear about it as a strategy for improving our success. A resucent study showed a definitive correlation between good nutrition and cognitive performance finding; nutrient markers in the blood accounted for 17% of the variation in the tests of thinking and memory function, nutrition accounting for 37% of the variation in brain volume.  Ever had a hangover? Were you at your most productive, most decisive at that moment? Extreme example perhaps, but it does serve to illustrate what happens to our productivity when our brain is deprived of the nutrients it needs to function efficiently. Even a small deprivation every day can have a cumulative impact on your overall efficiency and effectiveness over the long term.

3. Statistics show that 'fit' people get promoted faster and further than 'fat' people. Now, the definition of each of the terms fit and fat are based simply in the perception of the observer, but those qualifications are made by us all of the time (whether we openly acknowledge it or not). Certainly we speak about this issue in my Executive and Leadership Presence seminars, because it matters. How you look makes a difference to how people perceive you. Studies show that the more overweight you are, the less people trust in your ability to get things done. (note that this is regardless of whether you actually get things done or not). Additionally, people are attracted to positive energy. People rarely are motivated to follow those that can't seem to muster up much enthusiasm for what they're doing. Instead, they seek to follow those who have energy to spare, those who seem like they can not only get the task at hand accomplished, but have the energy to keep going, to continue the drive forward. This helps earn you the 'leader' title and helps get you the promotion.

For those of you that may find your New Year's resolutions to 'lose weight' or to 'get fit' flagging at this point in the New Year - use the above to provide you with more incentive to stay the course and not abandon your efforts. There is more riding on your efforts than you may have first thought... your career just may depend on it!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who are you rooting for?

I'm starting this blog post with a quote from the ever-quotable Seth Godin...

We say we want to root for the underdog, but actually, we want to be seen as rooting for whomever everyone else is rooting for
The need to belong, to feel that we are part of something, is a strong influencer over our behaviour.  Often, following the crowd is 'easier' then taking the time to think something through fully on our own.  We don't have the time (or perhaps the interest) and we therefore go along with everyone else.  It's almost a knee-jerk reaction. 

Perhaps going along with everyone else stems more out of a desire to:
  • Avoid confrontation.  We know that others will push back if we don't agree and we just don't want the hassle!
  • Be liked.  Let's face it, many of us like to be liked.  We care what others think.  As a result, we go along with the group in an effort to be seen as someone similar, someone that they will perhaps call a friend.
  • Not rock the boat.  Taking a stand takes energy.  We have too much on our plate already, we don't particularly care about the issue at hand, or perhaps we just want to strategically curry favour.  In either event, going along with others maintains the status quo, which serves us in the moment.
  • Not have to think.  Yep, sometimes it's just this simple... we let others do our thinking for us.
If we do any of the first three items above - deliberately and strategically - I don't take issue with it.  As long as you are consciously making a choice in those responses (that will hopefully net you positive results down the line) then I'm good. Note though, I still expect you to accept the consequences of those choices! 

However, if you are simply operating in default mode, going along with others because you don't want to think for yourself...  then we need to talk!  These are the folks that are less likely to accept any responsibility for their actions.  They will place blame on the others around them before they will ever accept that they too engaged in the same behaviour.   Letting others think for you will lead you to living someone else's life, supporting someone else's values and beliefs.

Rather, we need to ensure we are clear about what is important to us.  By understanding our values and beliefs more fully, we are then able to weigh our decisions and actions against them, choosing those options that work in alignment with our values.  Doing so might not always prove to be the easiest choice, or the most popular choice, but in the long run it will almost always prove to be the choice that allows us to feel best about ourselves. 

Saying no to you might mean that you don't like me much but... if by saying no to you I am living in alignment with my beliefs and values, what's important to me... then I like me just fine and for me, that's more than enough.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Time to Reflect...

This is the time of year when it is nice to take some time to sit down (in my case with a nice steamy hot cup of Chai Latte in hand) and reflect back on the past year and to then look to the one ahead.  All too often we fall into the trap of only doing one or the other. 
  1. We always look backward.  For some... there is the strong tendency to always be looking into the past, at what they have achieved, at how they have lived so far.  This is a necessary part of the reflection process, for we need to take time to recognise and celebrate how far we've come, how much we've achieved, but don't make the mistake of getting so mired in the past though that you can't see how much further you can go.
  2. We always look forward.  For others... the future holds the biggest allure and they are always looking for 'what's next'!  They are constantly pushing and driving toward achieving and doing 'more' with their lives.  We certainly want to use our look to the future to inspire us to continue to grow and learn, to discover more of the world and ourselves, but we also want to ensure that we acknowledge all that we have lived through, for our past helps to shape the person we've become.
Both of these elements needs to be considered.  First, to reflect back on the past year and to acknowledge and embrace all my achievements, everything that I have experienced and accomplished.  For me, this was a busy year, packed with lots of new opportunities and TONS of new learnings.  As I have looked to venturing into creating some training programs to offer my clients through the online learning platform, I have had to battle my own technological learning curve.  It's been work but it is coming together and I definitely feel good about stepping outside of my comfort zone and taking up the gauntlet of giving it a try.  Without trying there is no knowing. 

As much as there has been a serious amount of work this past year there have also been times to spend enjoying friends and family, from time spent at the cottage to time spent in Europe, to smaller moments catching up over lattes.  An essential part of any life well lived I believe; the balance of experiences, the richness of relationships.

Looking forward I am excited about the possibilities that this year will bring.  The new program launches in January and so we will see not only if all the work from the past year pays off, but what other possibilities it opens up moving forward.  I've built in a 90 day health challenge and am now consciously committing to my Third degree black belt in TaeKwondo.  Travelling, cottaging... all help to shape the way my year will unfold. 

Reward backward, motivate forward.      Cindy Dachuk

What about you?

How was this past year for you?  What did you accomplish and achieve?  What special moments did you capture in your heart?  Did you take time to fully celebrate each?  If not... take the time now to list everything that you accomplished and recognise and reward those achievements.  Reinforce the action you took, no matter how small it may seem to others, that helped shape who you are and that took you a step closer to who you will become.

What about this coming year?  What plans are you making for steps that move you forward?  What are you looking to learn, to experience, to try?  What relationships are you committed to starting, developing, growing?  What actions are you planning to take to create a fuller, richer, more meaningful life for yourself?  Open your mind and heart to your dreams and build a step or two toward them.  All journeys begin with a single step... what will yours be?

Remember... you are the difference you want to see in your life, so go out and make a difference... today!