The New Year is officially here. 2010 brings with it all of our new hopes and plans for the months ahead. As a part-time fitness instructor for the past 10 years, I am consistently intrigued as I observe the determined people packed into my classes in January. They start the new year eager for change yet disappear by February. Why does this happen? I believe it's because fitness resolutions are not well-defined or the implications of such a resolution is not considered. When it comes to exercise, most people start off trying to do far more than their body is capable of doing. It takes an investment of time and a commitment of a minimum of 30 minutes 4-5 times per week to build the stamina and muscle needed to realize the benefits of regular exercise. One resolution, such as "lose weight" or "start exercising" has so many other lifestyle implications. Most people don't even consider the time, eating habits and other changes that impact the resolution.
While I do not make resolutions, I typically set three major goals each year. There is no magic in the number three. It's just manageable and realistic for me. My goals are usually related to broad areas of life such as: faith, family, fitness or career. Now you may be thinking...what a wimp. Only three goals? Three goals are indeed more than enough because there are a variety of tasks and implications associated with each one. For me to stay consistent, I have to be able to measure my progress, set dates for milestones, celebrate victories and make sure I can commit the time it will take to accomplish the tasks. This year, I have set specific, measurable, realistic goals in three broad areas: faith, fitness and career. Each of these broad areas will impact many other details of my life. I have considered and planned for the time commitment needed to accomplish my specific goals.
Whether its in the workplace, a job search or life in general, I challenge you to adopt some broad areas to focus on, then set specific goals that may become habits throughout the year. Here are few of those broad areas that have helped me get started in developing specific goals that become part of my lifestyle each year:
#1 – Volunteer for a worthy cause
It is refreshing to help others. From serving as an after school tutor, to helping build a Habitat for Humanity house, the opportunities are endless to give of your time and talents. There is great satisfaction is giving of your time and physical effort. It helps you take your focus off yourself. Additionally, you may even gain some valuable experience to use on your resume or meet interesting people to help you in your current or future job search. Never lose sight of what you have to give to others and how you might grow from it.
#2 – Become smarter about the time you spend on social media
Sure we all have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Some of us even blog. Each of these tools can and should be used in different yet complementary ways. If you are seeking to reconnect with family and friends, network or just learn more about an area of interest, as they say, "there's an app for that." Social networks can also be very time consuming without yielding any real results. Ask yourself how you will use social media more effectively and strategically this year. Always remember social media does not take the place of having face to face conversations and connecting with family and friends by calling or being physically present with thme. This is especially important if you are out of work or seeking employment. Pick up the phone, get off the computer and go meet some people!
#3 – Avoid toxic people
Make it an extra point to avoid people who gossip, complain and believe everything is hopeless. I know we all have our moments. But there are some people who dwell and linger in toxicity. In many workplaces, I have noticed people who have no depth to their conversation unless they are criticizing others or discouraging big thinking. Try to avoid these conversations and those who initiate them. There's a quote that goes something like this: "Small thinkers discuss other people and big thinkers discuss issues." If you must interact with these people in the workplace or in your life, don't contribute negativity to the conversation. Keep a postiive attitude or remove yourself from the situation. Surround yourself with and seek out those whose conversations center around positive change, and "it's possible" thinking.
#4-Go deeper spiritually
If you already have a strong faith, go deeper. As Christians, I know we are dutiful to go to church yet when we get home or to our workplaces we forget how to love and be considerate of others. Try practicing some of the principles and concepts discussed by your pastor, preacher or spiritual leader. This is especially important at work, in casual conversations or while you are searching for work. You know, try basic things like: kindness, honesty or encouragement.
#5-Move your body intentionally. According to the Center for Disease Control, 60% of Americans don’t get enough exercise. Even if you decide to against joining a health club, there are many apps, online programs and resources available to help you get into shape and track your eating habits. There will always be a distraction or reason not to exercise. Commit to one simple thing so you can develop or maintain the habit of intnetional movement. Besides, teaching my weekly fitness classes, I have decided that on Wednesdays around noon, whenever possible, I’m going to briskly skip down the street for 5 minutes. Of course that means I can no longer wear my 2-inch heels to work. I have to buy and wear sensible shoes, at least on Wednesdays. See? Notice how one goal has other implications? I still want to skip down the street on Wednesdays, I don’t care what others think, it will make me smile! It might make others smile too!
Choose any one of these healthy habits, set goals think through the implications and you'll be amazed by what you can accomplish by the end of 2010. Who's with me? What healthy workplace or life habits would you add to this list?