February has just begun and it feels like January flew by. There has been much happening politically and regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, you may be emotionally exhausted. If you made a new year’s resolution, you may be ready to give up on it.
Still, 2017 is just getting started. If you haven’t spent (enough) time reflecting, planning, and preparing for this new year, it’s not too late. Be intentional about making this year your best one yet. Here are 4 approaches you can apply starting today:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY “NO”
Depending on where you are in your life’s journey, you might be overloaded with requests, whether they be for work, volunteering, family or elsewhere. Assess what is being asked of you and whether this aligns with your personal goals. Not sure what your goals are? Clarify those first, along with any other criteria for determining what opportunities are a good fit. Then assess each opportunity that comes your way.
Remember, in many cases, it’s OK to say “no.” There are various other ways to be involved or help without agreeing to a big commitment. Ask if there is an alternative way to contribute or if the timing can be made to fit your schedule. If the ask isn’t right for you, it’s better that both parties know upfront.
ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT OR NEED
Some people, like me, may have a hard time asking for help or offering their services. Yet, over time, I’ve realized that more often than not, people are receptive to my inquiries. I’ve become bolder in asking for what I need. What seems like a big ask on my end may not be such a big deal on the other side. On occasion, my requests can be mutually beneficial, like when inquiring about being a guest on podcast for a program that needs entrepreneurs to interview. I’ve now made someone else’s job easier by offering my time instead of making them find me. Several times, my request to write for blogs has resulted in a guest blog swap for both of our companies.
Whether you’re asking for advice, offering to be a panelist, or something else, people are generally willing to help in some way. Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot, and sometimes the person you ask may be practicing “saying no” themselves. Sometimes you ask now, but the yes comes at an unexpected time in the future. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know or win.
DO SOMETHING THAT CHALLENGES YOU
The more you do something, the easier it gets. This is generally true of hard and soft skills. When you challenge yourself on a regular basis, it becomes easier to take on new challenges. For example, in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast, Jia Jiang talks about his effort to rid himself of a fear of rejection by putting himself in positions to be rejected dozens of times a day. What a bold way to face one’s fear!
What skill do you need to learn but have been putting off? What’s been holding you back that you want to overcome? Try shifting your mindset to a learning orientation. Take on challenges with enthusiasm, knowing you’ll learn and grow even if you don’t succeed 100% at each attempt. With this mindset, trying can be just as important than the outcome, because it makes future attempts that much easier.
TAKE TIME TO PLAN
You may be thinking that there’s never enough time to get everything done and now Mamie wants me to use some of that precious work time to just plan? YES! Good planning is the “secret” to saving time. Just ask anyone who has built something. If you don’t get the plans right, you’ll waste way more time fixing what didn’t go right than you would have spent planning it properly from the beginning.
For me, one hour each week plus fifteen minutes each day is a great rhythm. Every morning, I determine what I need to get done that day and coordinate it with my available time based on what meetings and other commitments I have. At the end of each week, I look at my full to-do list and prioritize items for the following week so when I start on Monday morning, I’ve got a short list to focus on at work and at home.
The amount of time you’ll need to plan your week or day may vary. Try spending fifteen minutes planning each day for a week and then decide if you need more or less time. I find it’s helpful to block this time on my calendar as a reminder. Note that these times are separate from project planning which is critical, too. Consider adding thirty minutes to plan a new project, such as a new work engagement or your kid’s birthday party. Scope out the details of what needs to get done by when. The more detail you provide in the planning phase, whether for a project or a task, the easier job you’ll have when it’s time to take action.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
2017 still has the potential to be your greatest year. How are you going to make it your best one yet? How are you going to help someone else make it their best year yet?
Optimize your time. Cultivate your team. Achieve your goals.
What new approaches are you trying this year? Leave a comment below and share suggestions for practices that help you say no, challenge yourself, or plan effectively, or tweet at me @mamieks.
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