Infinite Blog

Career/Life Tips, Reflections & Questions, Resources

One habit to launch a great new year: pause and reflect.

pexels-photo-269561

I’ll admit: I’m a bit of a reflection nut. For me, life seems most meaningful when – rather than just floating through tackling the day-to-day – I make time to step back and reflect on my path. While I’m not as extreme as Socrates (“the unexamined life is not worth living”), I do tend to think that an examined life is more likely to be a fulfilling life.

As a result, I love taking the week between Christmas and New Year to pause and reflect – both looking back at the past year and ahead at the coming one. Along the same lines, I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions (why would I want to limit myself to something I can only do annually?!), yet it’s still a nice time to revisit my ongoing list of goals and decide what to focus on over the course of the year.

If you have a bit of down-time during the holidays, consider giving yourself the gift of reflection. Below are some prompts to get you started. (I recommend journaling on these rather than just thinking them through. The act of writing adds a bit of heft to the project, and it’s fun to go back and look at your list the following year to see what’s remained the same and what has changed.)


LOOKING BACK

  • The best thing about this year…
  • The worst thing about this year…
  • This year I am most grateful for…
  • What I would do differently this year…
  • What I’m proudest of this year…
  • What was most challenging this year…
  • Time I wish I had spent differently…
  • What brought me the most joy this year…
  • One thing I’m glad I did for myself…
  • One thing I’m glad I did for someone else…
  • One difficult conversation I’m glad I had…
  • One difficult conversation I wish I had had…
  • Biggest lessons learned:

LOOKING AHEAD

  • How do I want to feel this year?
  • What do I want to accomplish this year?
  • Who do I want to help this year?
  • Who do I want to see this year?
  • How do I want to spend my time this year?
  • How do I NOT want to spend my time this year?
  • What do I want to learn this year?
  • What will I contribute to my community this year?
  • What’s one thing that – if I’ve done it by Dec 31, 2018, will have made this a great year?

PLANNING

If you’re someone who isn’t content with simply reflecting and you’d like to move to action, check out this brief Ted Talk by Laura Vanderkam (one of my favorites for busy clients) and consider how you might be able to apply her points to move your reflection into action.

Regardless of how you ring it in, I hope your new year is immensely fulfilling! 

Career/Life Tips, Reflections & Questions

Thanksgiving: a practice, not just a holiday.

pumpkin

There’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving: the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, the endless meal and its leftovers, football, pumpkin pie, and – in my book – the act of giving thanks. I love that there’s an entire holiday dedicated to this idea!

There are many forms a gratitude practice can take. For me, it’s as simple as listing five things I’m grateful for before going to bed each night. They can be big (the health of my family and friends) or small (getting to turn off my alarm clock the next morning). Either way, it’s a nice way to bookend a day and jar myself out of simple mindless contentment. I highly recommend it.

Now if you really want to get bang for your buck, though, don’t stop there. Move past gratitude to truly giving thanks. What’s the difference, you might ask? A gratitude practice does a wonderful job reminding you how full and fortunate your life is. Giving thanks provides expression to that gratitude. It’s one thing for me to end my day grateful to have a supportive partner, an amazing mentor, generous friends and lovely clients. It’s another thing entirely to share this with them.

It reminds me of that folk song we were taught as children: Love is something if you give it away… you end up having more! The same goes for gratitude. Sure, it can make your life rich to reflect on what you have – and it can make MULTIPLE lives rich by sharing it.

This Thanksgiving, I’m going to focus on truly giving thanks. And I’ll start with you: THANK YOU for reading my posts, for sharing them with friends, and for generally supporting my journey. It means the world to me to know that other people are chewing on the same ideas I am – and are listening to what I have to say. You get me, and I dig it.

What to play along, but not sure where to start? Here we go: 

  • Who makes your life easier?
  • Who always brings a smile to your face?
  • Who handles the details you miss?
  • Who helps pull you out of the weeds?
  • Who challenges you to be your best self?
  • Whose shoulder do you know you can cry on?
  • Who has seen you at your worst – and stayed?
  • Who tells you the truth – even when it hurts?
  • Who changed the trajectory of your life?
  • Who helps care for your children/pet/parents? 

You get the idea. Now go tell them. And Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

 

Career/Life Tips, leadership, Reflections & Questions

Guess what? It’s OK to be human.

Image source: Porapak Apichodilok

When you’re a leader – or a parent, for that matter! – the job comes with plenty of stress. And yet, every day I see people ADDING to it by holding themselves to standards that are pretty demanding. My advice to you: STOP IT!

I started to write a “Top Ten” list of bad habits that will rachet up your stress level, but I decided to take my own advice (Bad Habit #4: Overcomplicating Things) and keep it simple. Here’s the advice, as succinctly as I can make it:

No matter how hard you try, you cannot have every answer, you won’t always get it right, and your actions won’t always match your intentions. And that doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad leader. Because – and here’s the thing – YOU ARE HUMAN. Just because you’re the boss (or the parent), no one expects you to be perfect. Don’t waste precious time and emotional energy pressuring yourself to have all answers and make only the right decisions. You can’t and you won’t.

Instead, get comfortable taking criticism, be humble enough to admit your mistakes, and learn how to make a heartfelt apology. Not only will this save you a ton of angst, but it will also make you something more worthy of following: a human. 

If you’d like to see a wonderful example of this in the real world, check out this note, recently posted by the owner of a small business (Glen’s Market) that I frequent in DC. After reading it, ask yourself: would I want to shop or eat here? My guess is your answer is YES.

And your reasons (if they’re at all like mine): Because it’s obvious she cares, takes feedback seriously, and is personally connected to the business. She took something that could’ve been harmful to her business and has used it to engage with her customers and further cement their loyalty. Don’t believe me? Read the comments.

So the next time you find yourself losing sleep over work, consider the pressure you’re putting on yourself and remember: You’re human. As some wise person said, “You don’t inspire people by being perfect. You inspire them by how you deal with your imperfections.”