It’s still pretty early into 2016, and already only 8% of those who made New Year resolutions are still on track. We can have the best intentions in the world, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or discouraged by multiple demands when we get back to the daily grind.
Executive coach and transformational leadership expert Donna Stoneham, Ph.D., author of The Thriver’s Edge: Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love, and Lead, says that it’s challenging not to fall into old patterns of behavior when we get back on the treadmill of daily life. And usually, it’s because our goals and resolutions feel like chores rather than things that make us feel happier, more productive, and more fulfilled. She identifies the key actions you can take to operate at your peak every day so you can thrive in your life and career and be the best person you can be in the coming year.
1. Be Grateful. Identify what you have to be grateful for today!
Action: Each day, take a few minutes to pause and think about all you are grateful for: Your loved ones, the roof over your head, plenty of food to eat, your friendships, good health. Really think about each thing and take a few moments to relish the feeling. Then get a notebook or journal and write your blessings down every day. If you have a challenging day, go back and review them. This is a fail safe way to lift your spirits!
Practice: Make a Gratitude Jar. Every time someone in your family has something good happen, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the Gratitude Jar. Then once a month, create a family ritual during which you pull out the jar and one by one read all the wonderful things that have happened during the past few weeks. Feel the joy and gratitude for all the good things that have transpired. These little victories will inspire you to continue this practice each month.
2. Be Present. Tune in and be 100% present for yourself and someone else!
Action: Practice being present for at least ten minutes each day. This can be as you’re eating a meal, helping your child with homework, participating in a conversation at work, or playing with your pet. Practice being present with those around you. Really be there. Listen to them without any agenda except being fully present. Appreciate them for who they are and how they enrich your life.
Practice: Once a week share an “appreciation meal” with your family or friends. During this time together, have each person share what they have learned about themselves and each other by being more present to one another. Let each person know what you appreciate about him or her.
3. Focus on Your Purpose. Feel more connected to your purpose today!
Action: When we lead busy lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget about the reason we do what we do every day. That’s why it’s important to remember and to focus on your purpose. Think of the difference that you’d like to make in your world. Maybe it’s being the best teacher you can be, or the most effective parent, or helping people to grow and develop if you are a manager of others.
Practice: Practice seeing and feeling your connection to your purpose by taking one action each day that helps you feel more deeply engaged with the reason you’re here. If you’re a teacher, then help someone in classroom learn something beneficial. If you’re a manager, then seek out and facilitate a development opportunity for someone on your team. If you’re a parent, then make it a point to let your children know how much you love them and appreciate the wonder that they bring to your life. Revel in the joy of knowing how instructive you are in the process of watching your children learn and grow. Whatever your reasons are for doing what you do, take one action each day that helps you feel renewed and recommitted to your passion, purpose and mission.
4. Move Your Body. Feel more connected to the magnificence of your body!
Action: Practice moving your body, from stretching to walking to more vigorous exercise. Feel the power you have in your muscles and in every step you take. Feel how vibrant you are now, knowing you’re getting even stronger with each movement.
Practice: Each day, turn off the TV, leave your phone behind, and get outside and take a walk, even if it’s a walk to the cafeteria on your lunch break at work. Breathe in the air, notice the beauty around you, feel the power in your steps, feel your connection to the ground beneath your feet. Realize and be thankful for the magnificence of your body to take you wherever you want to go.
5. Quiet Your Mind. Spend more time being and less time doing!
Action: We’re called human beings for a reason, but many of us have forgotten how to “be” in a world of 24/7 demands. Carve out a few minutes every day to stop “doing” and simply be still. Learn how to savor the silence, listen to the rain or even stare into space. Hit the reset button on your inner hard drive at least once a day by being still. Notice what you notice when you’re quiet that you aren’t able to hear when you are caught up in the fray.
Practice: Practice getting up 5-10 minutes earlier than your normal wake-up time each day. This way, you aren’t losing productive time, so you won’t have an excuse not to do this. Sit up in your bed with your back straight or find a chair in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Set a timer on your phone or on your alarm for 5-10 minutes. Close your eyes. Focus on breathing from your abdomen, rather than from your chest. Breathe in and out of your nose. Notice where you feel your breath most prominently on your inhale and your exhale. If you mind wanders, bring yourself back to your breathing by focusing on the sensation of your breathing until your timer goes off. This practice will give you at least 5 minutes a day just to be.
6. Appreciate Your Abundance. Identify where in your life are you truly abundant!
Action: When it comes to money and material things, enjoy what you have and make the most of it rather than always wanting more. Are there places where you spend money on things you don’t need? Where can you create experiences rather than buying things?
Practice: Instead of going out to dinner or getting take-out, how about staying home one night with the family and creating a meal together. Cook together, sit down together, and enjoy one another’s company without any electronic devices or television to distract you.
7. Pay it Forward. Help someone else! Do it!
Action: Do something nice for at least one person every day that enables you to extend yourself to others without the expectation of anything in return. What are the small acts of kindness that can make a difference in someone else’s life that require minimal effort to do?
Practice: Every day, practice delivering one act of kindness and notice how that makes you feel. For example, pay the road toll of the person behind you. Smile at strangers and watch them smile back at you. Hold the door open for someone else. Buy a colleague a cup of coffee. Let someone in front of you in your lane of traffic who wants to move over even when you’re in a rush.
Donna Stoneham, PhD, is a master executive coach, transformational leadership expert, facilitator, author and speaker.
For the past twenty-five years, Donna has helped hundreds of Fortune 1000 and not-for-profit leaders, teams, and organizations create powerful business results by helping leaders lead from their core strengths, leverage their full capabilities, and unleash the potential in their teams and organizations through her innovative approach to leadership development, Integral Intelligence®. Her client list includes Gilead Sciences, Genentech, Hewlett Packard, The American Medical Association, Wells Fargo, MasterCard, Comcast, and UC Berkeley.
Donna holds a Ph.D. in Humanities, with a concentration in Learning and Change in Human Systems and an M.A. in Human and Organization Transformation from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has completed advanced studies in Appreciative Inquiry from the Taos Institute, and holds a Certification in Integral Coaching.
Donna’s company, Positive Impact (www.positiveimpacellc.com) delivers break-through development programs that inspire people to create transformational results in their work and lives that create a ripple effect in the world. Known for her spirit of candor and compassion, Donna has written for the International Journal of Coaches in Organizations and Presence. As one of the world’s top coaches, she will be featured in the upcoming Coaching Movie (coachingmovie.com/cast) to be released in 2017.
When she’s not coaching, she enjoys swimming, philanthropic travel, writing and spending time at home with her spouse and rescue dogs in Pt. Richmond, CA.