Good habits, bad habits, old habits and new habits

personal development word cloudHave you noticed how much easier it is to fall back into old habits than it is to maintain new, positive habits?

So often, we know exactly what it is we need to do in order to be stronger and healthier, physically and financially, personally and professionally and yet .. we either don’t make the changes necessary or we don’t maintain positive, new direction.

Why is that? Personally, I think it’s because a lot of times, we don’t really buy into, believe or want the results the change in behaviour or attitude will bring. Other times, quite frankly, we get a rush or a kick out of the results our “negative” behaviour provides.

For example:

Unless you truly believe that taking (making?) the time to connect with your team in the morning is more important than checking emails, that change in behaviour won’t last more than six weeks.

Unless you truly believe that taking a break and stepping away from your computer screen and going for a walk or joining the table in the lunch room is going to improve relationships and productivity, that change in behaviour won’t last for more than six weeks. The same applies if working through lunch feeds your ego and makes you feel indispensable.

We make a lot of promises to ourselves and those around us because we’ve read blog posts, research paper, or participated in workshops, etc but unless we believe that the change will provide a personal benefit (yes .. sometimes, being selfish and looking after YOU is absolutely the right thing to do) … we quickly fall back into old habits.

Or perhaps we’ve just decided to make too many changes all at once. Outside of one person I know (whose New Year’s Resolution list generally tops 20 bullet points!) most of us need to focus on change in one, two or maybe three areas at at time.

Whatever the reason … if you’re finding yourself falling back into old habits, ask yourself why and refocus. Find YOUR reason, not anyone else’s or, take your list, prioritize and focus on one, two or three at at time. The others aren’t lost .. they are just on hold.

The Party’s Over. Let the Work Begin

It’s 6:09 am and I am exhausted.  I am also exhilarated, energized and invigorated.  This is the first normal day I’ve had since last week Friday.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday have been filled with learning, laughter, challenges, inspiration and perhaps, occasionally, some fear.   I have been surrounded by some of the most generous, humble, intelligent, funny and talented people I have ever met.  I was at a convention for professional speakers.

This is not so much to tell you about my experience as to ask you, “When is the last time you walked out of a meeting, a gathering or a convention, with the knowledge that the last hour hour, evening, day or weekend was going to make a difference in your life?”

And the next question then becomes “What did you do about it?”  The inspiration and the ideas shared and generated is the easy part. The hard part is after, when you’re in your office, looking at all the action items and ideas written down, some circled or highlighted, and then acting on them.

Like many, many of you, I’ve been here before … exhilarated, energized and invigorated with a list of meaningful, important actions I vowed to take.  And like many of you, most of those action items were tucked away for a time when I wasn’t so busy.

Here are three things I’ve done already so this time will be different.

  1. Joined the 100-Day Track.  For those of us in this track at the convention, it’s not over.  For the next 100 days, we will continue to be challenged, poked, prodded and held accountable to the goals and action items we committed to.
  2. Found a convention buddy. One of the speakers at our convention invited us to buddy up with the person sitting next to us and to commit to talk, once a week, for the next three weeks, about the changes we’d implemented as a result of the convention.  Our first call is next week Monday.
  3. Shortened my very long list of “must-do” ideas to ten, prioritized and dated them.  The other ideas aren’t lost. When the first ten are done, I’ll go back to that list and review again.  For me, long lists are overwhelming and overwhelming leads to procrastination; short lists I can tackle.

What about you? What are some things you do to ensure great ideas are not lost and forgotten, but are instead acted on?

Count Your Blessings

One of the perks of what I do is the many opportunities I have to meet new people and hear their stories.  Every once in a while I meet someone that I know I will never forget; someone that creates a shining moment in my life journey.

Last week I met just such a person at a session I was facilitating in Thompson, MB.  The session was about customer service and in the morning we spent some time focusing on the benefits of a positive attitude.  Dawn, a tiny dynamo who was in the session, indicated that counting her blessings on a daily basis helped her maintain a positive attitude.  Later that week, Dawn was in another session I was leading and I had the opportunity to speak with her one-on-one.  She shared her story with me and gave me permission to share it with you as well.

Dawn was not always been the positive person she is today.  Dawn had made some poor relationship and life decisions when she was younger.  She ended up in a small town in British Columbia with her four children, broke, with family far away.  They found a place to live in a small, run-down townhouse with no money to afford furniture. Dawn firmly believes that the emotional baggage she was carrying and her negative focus on life were dragging her down.  And so she made the conscious decision to shed that baggage and to focus on the things she did have, instead of the things she didn’t have.  Dawn decided to start each and every day counting her blessings.  She had four children, she had a roof over their heads and she had enough money to put food on the table. Dawn chose to turn her focus from the negative to the positive and she credits that one, difficult, challenging choice to turning her life around.  It took some time to go from having to consciously choose to focus on the positive to a natural state of positive energy, but it got easier and easier each day. And the more positive energy she radiated outward, the more positive energy she received in return.

Dawn has done so much with her life since that decision. She has actively worked with her community to create restorative healing and justice programs for at-risk youth; she is working with her son to open a restaurant that not only promises to provide great food and service, but to also support the community in various capacities.  Dawn is passionate about caring for the earth and for caring for the people she shares it with.  Dawn spreads a message of joy, of abundance, of compassion and of caring. Her positive attitude and take on life is infectious.  I consider my life just a bit better because I was given the opportunity to meet her.

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.”   -Sarah Ban Breathnach

My Three C’s

We are very close to wrapping up another year and opening up a brand new one.   What an opportune time for reflection and contemplation.  I know, reflection and contemplation should be an on-going activity, not an annual event, but something about this definitive end and beginning invites the revisiting of old ideas, goals and challenges.

 I was recently asked the question “What is important to you from a career perspective?”   What an excellent contemplative question.  As I reflected on this question and my career journey to date, I identified three key areas of importance to me:  challenge, change and common values.

I gain a real sense of satisfaction when I take on a new challenge, learn something new, create change. “Same old, same old” is not for me.  That means that, for me, if a company is looking for someone to maintain the status quo, then I am not the right person for them.  I have been known to jump headlong into projects or tasks that I was not “qualified” for. There have been mistakes along the way and each one of those mistakes has provided a learning opportunity, some more painful than others, but all valuable.

From a corporate perspective, I believe that all companies, including my own, should demonstrate integrity, should respect and care for the local and global community and should not be satisfied with simply maintaining the status quo.   In the past, financial realities may have kept me in a setting longer than I would have liked, but in the end, I packed my bags and fled a job I enjoyed when the organization’s values were in direct contrast to my own.  Opportunities to work with or partner with organizations that share my values are exciting, rewarding and very important to me.

Taking the time to answer the question “What is important to you from a career perspective?” was extremely valuable to me and will help set the direction for me and my company in 2012.    I’d love to hear from you … “What is important to you from a career perspective?”