By Jan Bruce
I didn't make a resolution this year, and I don't have any plans to do so. Because if you ask me, resolutions come a little dangerously close to rules, and as an entrepreneur, I have never played by them. My strength has always been in breaking the mold, not conforming to one.
For those of you who attempt to achieve more by way of a New Year's resolution, you may find those rules don't have staying power. After all, if I have been rewarded for breaking rules in my professional life, why would I think that abiding by them would spell success in my personal life? It wouldn't. You don't get to make a career or a life out of following a list of rules or things you "should" do. You achieve big by being an embodiment of those goals.
Instead of writing up a list of promises that will fall to the bottom of your to-do list by February, do something different: Start acting like the person you want to be, right now.
Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul, catalytic entrepreneur, and Shark Tank celeb, said recently that one of her guiding principles is "Perception creates reality." I love this -- and I live by it myself. You don't need a wind-up. Just act the part, starting now, and grow into it.
This isn't about smoke and mirrors or illusions or fakery. It's about authentically choosing and living into the person and purpose you want. (Find out what three things leaders do to stay authentic.) How do you want to be perceived by others? How do you want to feel about your life, your role? When you know this and act like it, you aren't wishing, but doing. And it makes achieving goals that much easier -- because they become an outcome of your behavior.
Consider this example: Say I want to stop eating potato chips (and I love chips). I don't say "I must not ever eat a chip again." I say to myself, "I am a goddess, and goddesses don't eat chips." If I know who I am and what I do, then I know what I don't do. I can make that change (and have).
This past weekend, Mike Tyson wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times ("Fighting to Kick the Habit") about his struggles to right his own ship again and again after being pulled way off by a riptide of drug addiction, greed and low self-esteem (not to mention no support system to speak of). He comes to the realization that living a sober and authentic life isn't just about "not" doing a thing, but being someone different.
I've learned that being sober is more than just avoiding drugs or alcohol. It's a lifestyle focused on making moral choices and elevating the things that make life worth living to the forefront. Don't get me wrong. If I craved drugs or alcohol, I'd still give in. I could never fight those cravings. But when I am focused on doing good and being good, and practice the day-to-day mechanics of a sober, healthy life, I don't get those urges to do bad things to myself.
Let's look at some of the common professional and business resolutions you might be tempted to make, and how to turn them into realities instead:
"I'm going to be more organized."
Rather than nagging yourself to "get organized," decide that you are a person who doesn't tolerate chaos. A colleague of mine knew she wasn't managing her business the most effective way possible, so she read David Allen's bestseller Getting Things Done, and threw herself into his popular program for getting work under control. She didn't just want to do it, but be it. She made it happen. Now she's on fire -- and no surprise, new business has found her.
"I'm going to work harder on my career."
The tricky thing here is that "working harder" isn't quantifiable. How will you know you have? What does that even mean? However, when you decide how you want to be perceived by your colleagues and superiors (powerful, decisive, driven), this will influence how you act and how you're treated.
Someone asked me recently if my company meQuilibrium is the leading solution for stress management. I could have said lots of things, qualified my answer, made excuses (we're growing, we're next generation, there are others out there) but instead, I led with my reality: Yes, we are the solution for stress. And I am its leader. Own your expertise, your reality, and you will fulfill on the expectation you have, and that others have of you.
"I'm going to stop being so stressed out."
Speaking of stress... this is another tough one -- how will you know? Does that mean you won't work as hard (probably not), or that you'll back off of risky situations (which may not serve you or your business). You don't have to "stop" stress (good luck with that!) but you can start aligning your actions around how you handle stress with the reality you want to create -- by being a person who isn't afraid but who faces their stress, understands it and does something about it.
You want to be a more powerful leader? A visionary? An oasis of calm? Claim it. Write it down. Keep it close. Design your life, your brand, your footprint, your impact around how you want it to be -- and that's how you will deliver on that goal, rather than the other way around. Execute on creating that reality and the rest will follow.
Want to see even bigger results? Take our 28-day stress challenge!