2016 is done. 2017 is here...by now we’ve all at least thought about or had someone ask us about resolutions. Some of us have rolled our eyes while others have already rolled up their sleeves and are making progress.
Google tracked the top 10 most searched new year's resolutions last year….and these were the top 4
#1 How to get rid of stress
#2 How to make kale chips
#3 How much water should I drink to lose weight
#4 How to write a resignation letter
I was intrigued by how two of these top four are work related so I dug deeper into google and found more of the top googled work related questions.
What can I do better at work?
Ways to improve job performance?
Something you can do to become a better employee
Things to do better at work
These questions being asked inspired me to write this. The article is long but the strategies are short and can be activated on any given day....give 2017 the opportunity to be our best year yet.
This article will also answer some of the very real tangible questions you’ll have if you’re looking to be a better employee in 2017
1. Double down on your strengths
Gallup has shown that people who use their strengths on a daily basis at work are 6x more engaged. When you and I are SIX TIMES more engaged, work is that much more rewarding and we get a real return from the work we do. Even the simple awareness of our strengths has been found to boost performance by 7%. We’ll never climb the career lattice and achieve what we desire by putting more effort and focus into our weaknesses.
This year we need to put DOUBLE the effort into activating and using our strengths at work.
2. Find a mentor
I’m sure you’ve heard this before - but it’s really important to find someone who you look up to. Someone who is ahead of you in an area of life you desire to grow in (career, family, personal). Approach this person and tell them what part of their life you admire (give something specific) and ask if you could have a phone call or coffee to ask some questions. Then get to work on putting together some damn good questions. Meet with this person. Ask your questions. WRITE DOWN their responses and then get to work. You’ll find consistency works best, for one of my mentors we connect twice a year and I walk away with a year's worth of work and insight to implement before our next meeting.
This year we need to find someone who can help us up level an area of our life and give us insight beyond our current experience.
3. Pick one small health habit and do it every day for the year
Last year, for my New Year's Resolution I decided to pick one thing that I could do EVERY DAY for 2016. I took this approach because after seeing how long the average person keeps their New Year's Resolution...I wanted to try something different. Surprisingly, 64% of people make it through the first month with their resolution intact - but I wanted more progress. So for 2016 I did yoga everyday. Although I failed completing everyday, I did yoga about 75+% of the days and can say my overall health and mental clarity has improved as a result. Now going into 2017, I have a habit that is built into my life and routine. Also, the advantage that building a new habit provides for our confidence, motivation, momentum cannot be understated.
This year we need to pick something that will increase our health and energy by doing it every single day in 2017.
4. Try audible and read a free audiobook
Do you hate reading? Yes, I used to as well. During K-12 I only read one book….To kill a mockingbird. It wasn’t until I felt lost, disengaged and confused in my career at the CPA firm that I started to enjoy reading. I stumbled into some authors like John Maxwell, Simon Sinek and Tim Ferriss who's books totally revolutionized the way I saw the world and my approach to work. Reading is the opportunity to learn a skill, idea or insight that can literally transform your career and job. You and I commute to work daily - so pick one way of your daily work commute and make that your personal development time and press play.
Three books that i’m re-reading and focusing on for 2017 are
-David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell
-Great by Choice by Jim Collins
-Disciplined Dreaming by Josh Linkner
This year we need the discipline to develop ourselves in our comment time. Download audible - the first book is free and pay the $15 a month. Please.
5. Mentor someone
If a cup is full and never gets emptied it will become stagnant and lose the need to be refilled. In this way we are a cup and we have to find someone to pour a bit of ourselves into. It can be at work, in our community, or a personal relationship - the impact is still high. Keep it simple and meet/talk 2-4 times for the year. This time helps take the focus off of our lives and gives context to what truly is important in our lives. I would say make sure you chose someone who is wanting to be mentored and someone you see as fertile soil so you receive the internal fulfillment of being a part of their process forward.
This year we need to invest into another human being and help them grow and develop.
6. Answer the question - What are my personal values?
One of my more requested programs is the “New Rules of Engagement” and a portion of that keynote is this idea of the Employee Brain. As employees we have reasons and feelings why we like the work we do, the company we represent, the products we provide or the guests we service. We’re not totally aware of it at a conscious level but the reasons we are drawn to different elements of our work have to do with our values. Our values are woven into the fabric of who we are as human beings so they operate at a non-conscious level. Getting clarity on what your personal values are gives insight into who you are. This approach can help hack decisions we make as we approach our career lattice. It also gives us a tremendous framework for understanding why we love certain parts of our work.
Here is a great list of values: http://www.minessence.net/pdfs/values_definitions.pdf
This year we need to identify our personal values and take steps forward to understand how they drive us at work.
7. Answer the question - Why am I here?
This question gives us insight into where we find ourselves in life. As an entrepreneur I ask myself this question often. Statistically 70+% of employees are not engaged with their job...meaning they aren't happy.
At the CPA firm I didn’t intend to hate the job but unfortunately I did. Instead of blaming anyone I took an inventory about why I was working there and developed a real purpose to my time there - learning to develop as a professional, paying down my student loans and studying leadership / human performance. It’s important for all of us to know how we feel about why we are working for the company or location we are. The answer gives us insight into how we take ownership and responsibility to our time at work. I'm not saying we stay at a job we hate nor am I saying we leave at the first sign of conflict. What I am saying is when we get clear on some of the reasons we are there it helps us make decisions and become more engaged in our work because we see the value it's providing to us in our process forward.
This year we need to know why we show up to work.
8. Find your tingly feeling at work and do more of it
There is something we all do at work that gives us a tingly feeling. For years when I worked in fine dining restaurants my favorite part of the night was getting to talk about the specials and the food. I orchestrated everything around making sure that I would have enough time to talk passionately about the food and not be rush guests important decision of what to experience. Instead of making it a check the box experience for my guests I “took them into the kitchen” with my descriptions and made them feel a part of the creation of that dish. For me getting to experience this time made the pain of polishing every piece of silverware and wine glass worth it. Everyone of us have something we do at work where the music plays inside our head and makes us say “this is my jam”….even if it’s only 30 seconds a day we have to find this, harvest it and do more of it.
This year we need to identify what gives us the greatest excitement and energy at work and find ways to center our work experience around it
9. Go up to a coworker and ask them “WHAT THE HECK IS RIGHT WITH YOU”
It’ll also be something they’ve never experienced before. As soon as our ears hear the words “what the heck”…..we put up our defenses and protect ourselves from the ensuing assault. We can flip the narrative and use this to pay a compliment to someone. This question allows us to get and give insight into the best parts of someone. Into the strengths, and skills that allow them to be a rockstar. This may not get you on next years Christmas card mailing list but it’ll spark something inside of them and will help you learn to focus on the strengths and better traits of others.
This year we need to focus on the best in others.
10. Meditate once a week for 10 minutes
Over the next 5-10 years you’ll be hearing more and more about meditating in the corporate space. Especially in this ALWAYS ON environment where we constantly feel next hit as a notification on our iPhone comes through. Our margin for awareness and quiet space has been squeezed big time. This isn’t all bad - but we as humans have to make a focused effort to combat this. So - once a week begin the habit of sitting still and breathing. It can be in the car before going into the office, at work when you feel your head about to squeeze off your shoulders or in your driveway after work. It’s actually pretty easy… breathe in...breathe out...repeat. Put your phone on do not disturb or airplane mode, set your timer for 10 minutes and repeat breathing in and out. It’ll probably seem like forever when you start - keep your eyes closed despite your mind telling you you’re missing phone calls, txts and important emails….If you like apps for assistance I've been loving "Headspace" lately.
This year we need to find ways to clear our mind and get some headspace.
11. Skip food for 24 hours (fasting) once a month or once a week if you’re brazen enough
There is an entire world of health insight around fasting. IF (intermittent fasting) eating and 24 hour fasts have so much incredible research around them it’s honestly hard to ignore. Over the last year i’ve incorporated food fasts into my regular life and am convinced it’s a powerful practice for human performance. Food can become consuming and some of us fall into the trap of living to eat instead of eating to live. These fasts help keep our focus on what’s actually important in life and when you’re body isn’t processing food for an extended period of time it can redirect resources to the brain which gives us increased clarity and creativity. Plus when you’d give anything for a spinach leaf 21 hours into a 24 hour break from food you begin to appreciate healthy, energy producing foods.
Check out the data from this neuroscientist:
This year we need to give our body and mind an edge.
12. Give someone a “get out of jail free card”
Because we all need a break and guaranteed at some point this year you’ll need a break in return. The year is long and we aren’t perfect. Chances are some people will make mistakes and others will let you down. Keep one of these “cards” in your pocket and let some people off the hook every once and awhile. Use them to build up goodwill and create learning moments for those around us. If you are a manger or leader the use of these "cards" fosters incredible opportunities for creativity and innovation.
This year we need to give some extra grace.
13. Find a charity that is meaningful to you:
I remember when the sheet would get passed around for us to elect some year end donations from our paycheck. Although I struggled with it because I was just looking at a long list of charities and had to decide by name recognition or program awareness. This isn’t bad but when we can contribute and support a charity that is HIGHLY meaningful to us it adds value to why we go to work. Choose to support a meaningful cause that pulls on the strings of your heart and whether it’s $10, $1000 or $1000 for the year you'll begin to create a depth to who you are as a person and employee. By taking this step you begin creating more value to why you go to work everyday. You’re building what I’ve heard Dan Cobb CEO of Daniel Brian Advertising call “Double Bottom Line.” Find your double bottom line and build your net worth while building your heart worth as well.
This year we need to connect our work to something highly meaningful.
14. Increase your awareness of your weaknesses
It’s 2017.... and if you haven’t been honest with yourself up to this point - well this is the year to start.
Step 1: Identify what you believe your weaknesses may be. If unsure - ask someone and they'll tell you. Step 2: Become aware of them…. Step 3: Increase awareness then resume normal operations. We all have to use our weaknesses daily but it’s the awareness of them that begins to give us power. There are tasks, environments and seasons of a project where each of us have strengths and weaknesses. It’s foolish for us to expect to feel the same when we’re applying our strengths as when we are knee deep into our weaknesses. A weaknesses is something that weakens us and so our extended use of the weakness will cause frustration and fatigue in comparison to using a strength. As we improve our awareness and response to our weaknesses then we can override the negative feelings and responses we have and write them off as just a weakening activity response. I believe Taylor Swift said it best...shake it off. By the way, aren’t we overdue for a new album from her?
This year we need to get real about what we aren’t the best at and manage around it.
15. Identify one skill you want to learn this year
What if you learned a skill this year that you’ve always wanted to? It could be something work related or it can be an interest you’ve always had. Either way your performance at work will take on something new. Like an ice cube tray, what you fill up in one area will spill into another. This skill development is about putting intentionality around who you are becoming. In 2017 I’m super interested in learning how to code apps for iOS and although this isn’t a directly useful skill for me it’s something i’m interested in. If I chose to learn and develop this skill it will only develop me as a human being and add value to who I am. It will bring excitement, energy and engagement to my life. I will win, my clients will reap this benefit and so will my family. (yes these are intentionally becoming shorter...this article has been a marathon just like 2017 will be)
This year we need to intentionally develop one skill and unleash our passions and creativity.
16. Invest more into your closest personal relationship.
Who is the person that speaks life into you and gives you support when you're in the weeds? What I am suggesting is to take the time and effort to build a deeper root system in this relationship. In financial investing or on the sports field if something is working you continue to give it attention and focus. So with your spouse, partner or best friend sow more time and love into this relationship. As you do this it will help bring stability and joy to who you are.
This year we need to invest time into meaningful personal relationships
17. Do something for the first time...or at least something pretty different from the norm
It could be walking into a gym. Skydiving. Trying light roast instead of dark roast at Starbucks. I don’t care. Just do something that will cause you to say..huh that’s different. I’m sure you’ve never thought about it but when you get out of the shower every morning you dry off the same way. A few years ago I made myself dry off in different ways every day. It's not a science for immediate success but from the aspect of how we've seen our brains develop and grow we need to be pushing into new territories. Your options are endless - just do something different. Make it fun, painful or something that you've thought about doing for 7 years and never done. Heck..listen to a Nickleback album on Youtube - that’ll spark something for sure.
This year we need to spark ourselves and try something new.
Go to joshuaschneider.com/5days and download the incredibly powerful free tool to help you make 2017 one of your best years yet!
Go to soundcloud.com/disruptingwork for daily 60 second strategies and motivation for your day at work.
My friends. I look forward to sharing 2017 with you and disrupting work as usual so we can have a more engaged life and work.