The holiday season is in full swing. Calendars are booked with social events, holiday parties, end-of-year meetings, searching for perfect gifts, taking vacations, decorating for the holidays, planning menus, the list goes on. Before we blink it is the new year and we are starting all over. It’s one of the best times of the year and if I am honest, one of the most overwhelming seasons of the year. With all that said, I thought it would be a perfect time to inspire you with ways that allow you to reflect, reset, and reconnect so you can close the chapter in 2023 and be ready for 2024.
I have studied organizational culture and employee engagement for over twelve years. What I love about the topic is the realization that real everyday people make up organizations. Many times, when we think of putting the year-end review, we get bogged down with the black-and-white facts printed on reports; what was the bottom line? While it is necessary, I believe it should not be the only thing we review. In today’s blog, I am going to review the three R’s that have helped organizations, leaders, and everyday people succeed in both their personal and professional lives so you can show up as your best self in every aspect of life as you enter the new year.
Reflection is often an overused term and underutilized practice. For busy people like you and me, we are often juggling multiple tasks during our day and many times we move from one task to the next giving little time for reflection. However, this simple task often sets our brain up with a new roadmap that allows us to be more aware and execute necessary changes instead of living in reaction and using our precious time cleaning up our mess. In other words, reflection offers growth.
We live in a world where we cannot control many things, I cannot even control my kids, but I can control myself. So, when we look at reflection, we are not looking at the situation as much as we are looking at how we handled it. One of my favorite courses we offer at The Riverbend Group is LIFO. What I love about the course is learning behavior styles. Knowing and understanding them will help you in delivering your communication effectively and efficiently to the person you are talking to which happens to be incredibly useful in all aspects of life both personally and professionally. We have many other courses that help with the implementation of this practice that accelerate positive effects through efficiency and outcomes in everyday situations.
There are four actions I look at in reflection: Celebrate, acknowledge, review, gratitude
Humans are hardwired to focus on the negative, it is our fight or flight, our defense mechanism; It is a good thing. However, when we do not exercise our muscles to find the positives, we run the risk of eliminating them. If we do not take the time to see the positives, they easily get replaced and not protected during problem-solving.
I have met countless people who find it hard to celebrate successes out of the fear it will look arrogant or the fear that once celebrated it will somehow go away. Productive reflection requires you to celebrate successes, even if it means you did not reach a goal, take the positives from the experiences so you know what NOT to let go of.
Often, we jump to this step without celebrating what went well. Acknowledging is not intended to be a blame game; it is intended for learning. Remember this is about the controllables – you. It can be hard to address the failures and losses but once we name them and take accountability for them, they no longer have power over us. The key is to acknowledge them knowing they bring up negative emotions and ask yourself how you could have shown up differently. This is one of the most powerful steps in reflection. How did I show up? How was I perceived? What could I have done instead? And what would I do differently if I had to do it all again tomorrow?
What were your intentions and goals to do this year? Did you achieve them? This is a time to take what you learned from celebrations and acknowledgments and get to the bottom of why you did or did not achieve your goals. Here is where we identify the intentions. Were my actions lining up consistently with the goal or was there a distraction, was there misalignment, was the goal authentic? Where were the gaps?
At Riverbend, we often talk about gratitude. It is an essential component of positive thinking. We know the world is not all sunshine and roses, but the world has sunshine and roses. Are you stopping to notice them? In one of our favorite books, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy he mentioned a practice in one of his examples I started to implement this year. I found it particularly helpful in shifting my busy overwhelmed mind into a place of love and gratitude. The practice was writing one thing in a notebook every day that you appreciate. In the example, the man was writing about his wife. It completely turned his marriage around and the bonus was, at the end of the year, he had an amazing gift for his wife.
Whether it’s relationships, your job, or just everyday life this practice can wire your brain to start noticing the positives and offer a whole new perspective and life you enjoy. This mirrors the studies done by Berkley’s Greater Good Science 5 Good Things practice. Studies have shown that for every three positives noticed it builds resilience towards one negative. That means the more we take time to notice the positives when the negatives hit, we don’t fall completely flat on our faces; we recover quicker. So, as you wrap up the year of gratitude make sure you are noticing the good things, and remember you GET to pay your bills, go to work, and run errands. Figure out what you need to replace “have to” with “get to”.
One of my favorite topics of discussion is core values. I remember doing a core values workshop at work one year and walking away knowing exactly what they were. The problem was, I did not know what it meant to live, give, or receive them. It was not until my life seemed to be crumbling before me that I realized I had lost my why and my actions were not driven by my core values. As we wrap up the year and head into 2024 one of the best actions you can do is ask yourself these two questions:
- What are my core values?
If you know your core values and your company values, it is time to ask yourself if your daily actions are aligned with them. If they are not, is it time to review them and adjust? Or perhaps you were like me and knew them but did not exactly know how to honor them. Based on your learnings from reflection, ask yourself what tweaks you need to make so what you are saying is aligned with the way you act.
A perfect example of this was me saying family was one of my values but during the time I was spending with my family, I was physically present, but I found myself on my phone or multitasking instead of being emotionally present. This was not my definition of the value. I would say how much they meant to me but behind closed doors I was focused on all my tasks and waiting for the day they would all be done so I could spend time with them. I think we all know that my tasks never ended! On the days I did finally get time with them, I was mentally and physically cashed, so they were not getting the best of me. Ultimately, I was not being filled with what was most important to me therefore I was operating from an empty cup, and no one was getting the best of me. The reality was, they were there the whole time, and I did not notice or take the 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there to capitalize on the opportunity. Instead, I hit burnout and not only was my family life a mess, but I was also not performing well at anything. The point of this story is to share the importance of knowing your values and living them so you can be the best version of yourself always and prevent burnout.
- What is my “Why”?
Why are you here? What is your purpose? What do you bring to the table and how can you serve? When we know the answers to these questions our authenticity meets our passion and we become unstoppable. One of the best practices to get to the bottom of finding out your why, was developed by Sakich Toyoda called “the 5 layers of why”. The concept is based on the realization that our first answer is never really the reason, ask why 5 layers deep and you may just find the driving force and enable yourself to tap into your passion.
It is time to put this all into practice by reconnecting. Take what your awarenesses are and immediately apply them by identifying the following:
- What do I need to wrap up this year to bring closure to 2023?
For some it may be taking the awareness and writing a handwritten letter to your team acknowledging them, thanking them, inspiring them, or outlining what you appreciate about them. For others, it may be implementing a tweak in a final project that allows them to step into their purpose. Or perhaps it is altering your communication style to influence others on your team that allows you to wrap the year up with a pretty bow. Whatever it looks like for you ask yourself what needs closure now so you can start the new year off with things that give you energy.
- What do I want to be feeling this time next year?
Creating goals for the new year can be somewhat daunting and scary, especially since we do not have a crystal ball. Many of us do not want to over-commit out of the fear of failure (feeling vulnerable anyone?). So instead of asking for the goals, I like to think about how I would like to feel- Accomplished, more confident, and clear-minded, are a few examples. Then I can ask myself what would make me feel those things. When I start with the feeling in mind first, I can paint a clearer picture of what success looks like, because I am associating with what it feels like. I have never met a person who did not love the feeling of success!
- Give yourself some time to create a vision of what success looks like
The hardest part is creating the vision, because as humans we rarely practice it. When you envision what success looks like it allows you to get a clear picture of where you are now and where you want to go so you can gain a better understanding of what you need to do to get there. This gives flexibility on the how and permission for tweaks along the way. The idea is to have a firm why, values, and vision with the desire to reach that feeling. Writing these down or speaking them puts it to life and creates accountability. This could be a great exercise to ask your team with the intent to share in the new year. This not only helps with accountability; it creates a team bond and gives everyone awareness of what each other is working towards.
One of my favorite things about The Riverbend Group is being a part of a team that truly cares about their clients’ needs and outcomes. The customizable approach we take in creating workshops, coaching programs, and events that are aligned with your needs is something I have not seen anywhere else. I have been so blown away by the attention and intention put into what we do every day. I am honored to be a part of this team and if we have not met yet, I look forward to meeting you in 2024!