With the holidays behind us, it’s nearing that time of year we look back at the past twelve months and reflect on what we’ve done. Most often, it’s what we didn’t do. That introspection leads many of us to make New Year’s resolutions. We start the new year with a commitment to ourselves to make changes for the better.
For most of us, these resolutions typically don’t last long. After a few months, those new running shoes start to spend more time in the closet than they do on your feet. Or you watch the steady erosion of that decision to eat healthier meals as the daily trials and tribulations of life and work shorten the time you have for shopping and meal preparation. All of those good intentions eventually disappear. The excitement of change escapes us and we find ourselves admitting defeat long before the year is over.
The good news is that you aren’t alone. Lots of us go through the same cycle each year. Or we get to the point where we don’t even bother with a resolution because we know we will never keep it!
The better news is that you can do something about it. You can do something that will provide benefits across the board by making changes in how you think about life and how you respond to those thoughts. The challenge with most New Year’s Resolutions is that they are almost entirely focused on changing a single behavior without addressing the underlying thoughts that create the behavior in the first place.
More than likely, we all know someone—a friend, colleague, family member—that seems to embody the epitome of success. This person always seems to be on the ball personally and professionally. They don’t miss a beat and even when they do they seem to know how to course-correct effectively. Despite their busy life, they seem to be calm and focused, at least most of the time. How do they do it?
We believe a significant part of it comes down to a few fundamental ways of viewing life and translating those thoughts into behaviors that foster professional and personal success. At BlueSky, we often refer to the “behaviors and attitudes that drive successful outcomes.” So what exactly are those things? Here’s a quick list.
The first behavior, Envision, is about thinking. Think about your goals and creating a clear mental picture of the end result you want to achieve for each of those goals. Professional athletes use this technique all the time. Before they put their body in motion, they “see” in their mind what it is they want to achieve and envision exactly what that looks like. There is no reason why you can’t do the same. In each area of your life whether it’s professional or personal, create a mental picture of the outcome you want to create. Watch that movie in your head. Give it a soundtrack if that helps. But most importantly, envision your desired outcome and then let that vision guide your actions. When we act without a clear purpose or intention, we tend to waste a lot of effort. Successful people have a clear view of the destination and how they see themselves getting there.
It’s often said that “life is not a spectator sport.” It’s trite, but true. If you want to be successful in your life you need to act. The first behavior was all about thinking. This behavior is all about putting those thoughts into action. I’ll throw in another quote from Goethe “Whatever you do or dream, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” That means a couple of important things. First, take responsibility for where you are. Why is that important? Because it eliminates the tendency to see other people or situations as barriers that prevent us from changing how we act. Successful people know that. They recognize that our power to change, or power to act differently, is always there. It has nothing to do with other people or situations. We can always choose to respond to those people or situations in a more effective, healthier way. The second part of this behavior is to make a plan. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it should be clear. “When X happens, I will respond with Y.” Taking an active role in shaping your life is one of the hallmarks of a successful person. Be that person.
Nobody wants to hear it but you simply can’t do everything at once and do it all well. Don’t feel the need to say yes to all invitations and requests. Don’t over commit. Don’t over promise. Don’t over dedicate yourself. Do know it’s okay to say no to extra projects at work and that you don’t have to sign up for every community event and committee possible. Successful people prioritize the different parts of their life and then devote time and energy to each part based on those priorities. Clear priorities help you focus on the right level of time and attention on the right things at the right time. So think about what’s most important to you. Make a list if it helps with good, better, best, and prioritize. And don’t forget, life is dynamic and priorities can change and shift. Your #1 priority today might not be the same a year from now. And that’s ok. Being aware of what your priorities are right now and knowing when to change them is the key.
We live in a culture and society that is often focused on the self. “What’s in it for ME?” And “It’s all about me.” This approach to life only results in you being very lonely. And more than likely, not very happy. A wise person once said “What we receive is often measured by what we give.” The ability to see beyond your own needs, to understand the needs of others and to create the proverbial “Win-Win” situation is another trait of successful people. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not we are by nature, social beings. So avoid the trap of instant gratification and entitlement by refocusing energies on yourself and putting it on others. Give back to others, help others, and do it genuinely and you just might be surprised by the results.
It’s a real word—we checked. To synergize is to make a mutually advantageous connection or combination. This is something that we take into account every day at BlueSky when conducting searches for our clients. Our goal is always to connect the people with the right opportunity at the right time. That’s synergy in action. On the professional front, synergy is about putting together a team that is capable of doing more than each member could possibly do on his or her own. On the personal front, it’s about seeking out people who bring out the best in you and vice versa. Successful people are always looking for those relationships that create synergy. So keep your eyes open at all times. This behavior is also directly related to the Empathize behavior. Put those two together and you’ve got some real synergy.
Last, but not least. Take care of yourself and make that a priority. Find things that reenergize your mind and your body, and do them. Successful people recognize that time needs to be set aside to recharge the batteries. Rejuvenate your spiritual and physical self or you will burn out. Some people run. Others do yoga or curl up with a good book. Or they find an artistic outlet like painting or playing the guitar. Do something relaxing, rewarding, and fun! Whatever it is, it should give you a feeling of renewal and you should do it on a regular basis.
So there it is, or at least the Reader’s Digest Version of those “successful behaviors and attitudes” that we are always talking about here at BlueSky. If you would like to read more about the behaviors of success, we suggest you pick up a copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.
Best of luck in the New Year,
The BlueSky Team