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Most of us use the New Year as a time to take stock of our lives. The break over Christmas gives us a bit of breathing space between the turkey, mince pies and the round of jollity. Many of us make promises that we convince ourselves we’ll try to keep this time. Those more cynical simply recognize that we will fail, so make the resolution not to make a resolution. Even so, if you question further, they too have aspects of their life that they would love to change, but they are honest enough to know that they are more likely to fail so they don’t even make the attempt.

It is midnight on New Year’s Eve – of the huge numbers of us who promise to give up smoking, eat more healthily, take action to create a more fulfilling social life, or do more exercise over ninety percent of us will have given up by the end of January.

Ask any gym and they will report that more subscriptions are in name only. Within four weeks the first flush of exercise in the early days of the year has become a forgotten dream or yet another thing for that voice in your head to torment you with.

Why is that?

Well we have the mistaken belief that will power by itself is enough.

Let’s take the example of losing weight. Well over half of all women in the Western world have been on a series of diets. Indeed many of them report that they have lived most of their lives on one diet or another. Whilst on the diet they lose weight. In fact, they are past masters at losing weight. If you ask them to calculate just how much weight they have lost over their lifetime the total is a very significant number.

Losing weight is not actually the problem. It is sustaining a weight level which is healthy and where they feel good. They fail because they are trying to tackle the wrong problem. They are asking the wrong questions of themselves.

The same is true of any other aspect of your life. Simply promising to do something to improve is likely to end in failure unless you get to the “why” which underpins the behaviour. “Why do we do ----, what does it do for us?” Food may comfort us or give us a sense of being cared for; smoking may give us permission to have five minutes of "me" time, or give us a feeling of being calm and in control. Once we understand what that behaviour actually gives us we can then find an alternative which is far less destructive.

The second aspect which governs our behaviours is our beliefs. These are often installed at an early age, and even when they have outlived their usefulness they can still pack a real punch and drive us to behave in ways which are potentially destructive.

I was working with a client last week who is driven to succeed, despite the fact that he has surpassed any need to prove anything to himself or others. His parents had very high expectation of him academically. They praised him hugely when he did well at school. He made the connection that academic success earned him love and appreciation. Forty years on he is still using the same rules to live his life. Paradoxically concentrating on work to the exclusion of his personal life has actually cost him the love and appreciation he so desperately wants.

Having challenged the relationship he has with work it is now proving possible for him to change the patterns of behaviour which govern his life.

If you want a life that is truly fulfilling in every aspect it is time to seek out the right questions, and question your behaviours and what underpins them. Make your New Years Resolutions a success story in 2007 – create a life you love!

Organizations

There is a myth in many organizations that being busy is the same as being productive, yet activity can actually be covering up the lack of strategic direction.

When I work with teams I am often struck by the levels of activity which have little to do with the core purpose of the team. People are attending endless meetings which have little or no relevance to their targets, lack of coherent communication means that work is duplicated by many, the absence of centralized information on something as simple as contacts and up to date phone numbers wastes time and causes high levels of frustration as people try to find out who the relevant person might be.

The solution is so simple. Successful teams, departments or organizations all have the same things in common.

  • There is a clear, shared vision which underpins all activity.
  • People have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and of the others within the team.
  • There are high expectations of all and by all
  • People are given the training, resources and levels of delegated authority to do the job effectively
  • People feel they have a valid contribution to make and enjoy a level of challenge
  • All are held to account for their contribution
  • Contributions are acknowledged and celebrated
  • There is an underlying structure which underpins the activity – communication, process, policy etc
  • There is an ongoing culture of development where everyone strives to improve
  • People learn to anticipate – better to prevent than to solve

Those organizations who sustain organizational and personal wellbeing and success also:

  • Value their people and realize that a well rounded person recharges their energy with a personal life
  • Understands that “good will” is a precious commodity and doesn’t take it for granted
  • Employs creative, thinking people and gives them space to develop those skills
  • Celebrates success and each person’s contribution

Many organizations need to wake up to the financial, emotional and health cost of ignoring these aspects. In the UK alone last year there were over 500,000 days reported to be lost to industry because of stress. It is thought that the real figure is actually far higher. Until there is a change of culture there will continue to be a high level of absenteeism because of stress and burn out and much potential leadership will be wasted.

Think about your own organization –

  • Are you busy being busy?
  • How much time, energy and money is being wasted?
  • Do you value and support personal and organizational wellbeing?

Recommended Read

For a bit of light-hearted reading, I can recommend “Cosmic Ordering” by Jonathan Cainer.

He describes how you can tap into the power of the Universe to achieve your dreams. He is one of many authors to cover this theme. Whether you choose to believe it is possible or remain skeptical in the extreme, the book offers an alternative approach to getting what you desire.

The book was my first exploration of the cosmic ordering phenomena, I found it easy to read. It offers a very positive way to look at life and achieving what you want. All I can say is I’ve tried the process with parking spaces and traffic lights with some success!

What I do believe is that you direct energy at what you focus on. Being very clear about what you want to achieve out of life makes it all the more likely that you will achieve it. Take action on those thoughts and you are even more likely to make progress towards your targets.

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