Resolutions are notoriously tricky. We humans love making them – we love the promise and potential of a fresh start, and the exciting possibility of revamping our lives in astounding ways – but we also
seem to love throwing them out the window. Studies paint a bleak picture, reporting that fewer than 25 percent of people stick to their resolutions after the first 30 days. I blame the all-or-nothing attitude
that so many of us adopt around our aspirations.
Can’t we be gentler with ourselves? It’s possible to have stretch goals and work toward them, but simultaneously accept that we’re imperfect beings who will undoubtedly have imperfect days. As an entrepreneur and leader, I’ve found it very useful to set resolutions around my annual work life – but I keep my sense of humor about them, just like I do with everything else. Here are some of the resolutions that have worked and are working for me. With a little fine-tuning, they may work for you too.
1. Cultivate Moments of Kindness
Amelia Earhart once said “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” Too often we forget the profound power of simple human kindness at work. We put on our office personas and get caught up in our daily tasks – then before you know it, we’ve lost touch with the empathy and vulnerability that make us relatable. Especially in today’s climate of political panic, social media
sniping and the non-stop churn of business, I feel we need kindness infusions wherever we can get them.
For me, this means not only looking for opportunities to be kind to others with small acts and heartfelt messages, but also seeking ways to be kinder to myself. Set a weekly intention (and a calendar reminder) to create and cultivate a moment of spontaneous, loving kindness with a colleague, direct-report, supervisor or yourself. Then watch the trees grow.
2. Connect With a Trailblazer
Most successful business people can name at least one leader, visionary, trailblazer or mentor who has helped to guide their path to success. Very few of us could have made it without help. But now that you’re settled in your career, how often do you continue to seek out connections and counsel from those ahead of you in your field? And how often do you seek entirely new introductions?
This year, resolve to make at least one new and meaningful connection with a trailblazer in your field. Look for someone who has a career you admire, then initiate a relationship with them, even if it’s just on LinkedIn. In messages, email, by phone or in-person, let them know what exactly you see in them and why you’re grateful for the example they’ve set. Then ask for some of their wise counsel as you go along your own path.
3. Listen to Your Customers
Just as you’ve resolved to spend time engaging with a mentor, it’s equally important to spend time listening to those who utilize your goods or services. Your business may already have a mechanism in place for client or customer feedback, but I recommend going beyond that. Take the time to initiate a handful of personal conversations with customers or past clients to learn from them on a more intimate level. You’d be surprised
by what can be uncovered through a personal call or email, or even an in-person visit, to ask a few questions about how your business performed for a customer or client.
Here are some of the questions I like to use: Why did you choose us in the first place? What stood out in our working relationship? How do our services compare to others you’ve tried? What could we have done better? What do you wish our team understood about you? How can we stand out from the crowd in the future? I also like to take the time to personally answer calls and emails from customers to keep me in tune to their concerns and feedback. This can be invaluable in
determining the pipeline for new product development.
4. Remember Your Body
Work is a mental task, and sometimes an emotional one, too. As such, when you’re deep into a project it’s frighteningly easy to forget that you have a body at all. You may find yourself sitting immobile for hours at your desk, skipping lunch or snacking on vending machine treats. This new year, make a resolution to remember your body at work –invest time and resources into it the same way you would an important project. This could be as simple as setting an hourly reminder to stretch for five minutes, beginning a lunchtime yoga practice or waking up 20 minutes earlier to pack a healthy lunch and snacks for the day. This
investment will pay dividends when your busiest season arrives because you’ll have the physical well-being and stamina to handle it.
5. Think Big for 2021
A new year is upon us, but it’s not too early to start thinking about the next one. One of the greatest challenges I’ve had in my business is mapping for growth – being prepared to grow in a sustainable and successful way. I now advise all business leaders, managers and entrepreneurs to keep their eyes on the big picture vision and have a plan in place for the potential growth they could see in the coming months and years. It may seem like a long shot, or a long way off, but it’s never too early or too premature to start thinking about how you’ll handle an explosion of demand. Get out ahead of what may be coming, and you’ll rest easier knowing that if business suddenly booms, you have a plan securely in place.
Deeannah Seymour is the founder of the feminine hygiene brand pH-D Feminine Health.