Making New Year’s Resolutions that Make Sense

Are You Making a Commitment to Improving Your Life?

It’s that time of year again. Are you, like so many people, thinking about making your New Year’s resolutions?  Do yours usually focus on what you want to have or do, or the things you wish were different than they are?

We believe that in order to make resolutions that really stick and bring you what you truly want, it’s important to look underneath the surface of your desires to what is most deeply important to you. So in light of that, here’s a short story that we’d like to share with you.

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A boat docked in a tiny fishing village. A Tourist complimented the Fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Fisherman.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the Tourist.

The Fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The Tourist asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs… I have a full life.”

The Tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you create a terrific business from what you already love to do! You should start by fishing longer every day and then you can sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat.  With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to a big city!  From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Fisherman.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the Tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the Tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” said the Fisherman.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny coastal village, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings doing what you like and enjoying your friends.”

The Moral of the Story

You could probably identify many morals in this story, but the one we would like to focus on is about paying a attention to the difference between what you are resolving to do, your strategies, and what you value when you create a New Year’s resolution.

If you look carefully at this story you’ll notice that the Fisherman and the Tourist actually had many similar underlying values. These are most clearly shown in what they list as their concept of an ideal life. Each aspect of the life they describe is the result of experiencing something that they deeply value, and many of the things on their lists are direct expressions of these values, such as; friendship, play, relaxation, intimacy, friendship, etc. Some are hinted at in the activities; sleeping late maybe an expression of choice, ease, or rest. Fishing could be a way to experience beauty, harmony, peace, relaxation, fun, etc.

You could take any of the activities described in the story and, if you have some competency with the use of a values vocabulary, you could identify each of the deep motivations that create the desire for these activities.

Usually when we’ve heard people talk about this story they do so with a sense that the Tourist is somehow “missing the point,” as though creating a thriving, global enterprise was somehow pointless given that it only leads to that same lifestyle the Fisherman already has. We believe that the activities the Tourist describes actually help make our point about the importance of knowing the deep motivations that drive the strategies that are attractive to you.

Some of the values that may be driving the Tourist, both in his having acquired an MBA and his quest to create a thriving business, are his values for; accomplishment, self-expression, success, adventure, and possibly even contribution. Contribution to all those people who would be employed, the families fed, and the opportunities that a growing company provides to its employees.

None of these values could be satisfied in the same way during the retirement the Tourist describes. That’s the time when the tourist will have the opportunity to experience the rest of those qualities that they value.

Does Your New Year’s Resolution Make Sense?

So how does this relate to making a New Year’s resolution? While it’s good to keep the end in mind while making a resolution (such as that ideal retirement) it’s probably more important to keep the beginning in mind. What gives birth to your desire for a particular outcome in the first place? What is the deepest motivation that creates your desire for the particular New Year’s resolution you hope to make, whether it’s eating less, exercising more, having more fun, or accomplishing that goal you keep putting off?

If you can get to the “beginning” of that desire, what you most deeply value, you may recognize that in fact there are many strategies that would allow you to experience what you value. And if you look carefully enough you may notice that the particular strategy you are resolving to undertake actually leaves out some things that are very important to you. In which case it’s important to rethink your resolution so that whatever strategy finally you choose will provide the opportunity to satisfy everything you desire.

On the other hand, by doing this investigation you may find that your New Year’s resolution is the perfect strategy for helping you experience everything you desire, with nothing left out. This can be a good thing as well, because, as we have discovered over and over again, when people are connected strongly to what they value they are much more motivated to take the actions that will help them experience those results. In fact, a clear articulation of one’s values provides the most effective kind of motivation we’ve seen for sticking with one’s resolutions.

So we encourage you to take a moment and reverse engineer your New Year’s resolutions to determine whether or not they will be likely to satisfy everything that you find valuable. If you’d like some help, you can use our free Values Exercise to do this.

Please post a reply and let us know what you discover if you do this little exercise.


Effective Business Communication – How to Eliminate the Number One Obstacle

Do you wish you had the ability to inspire people into action so they could more easily create greater success and rewarding results? Would you like to know how to foster willing in ways that everyone enjoys?

Whether you already have good , you’re taking courses and are practicing what you’re learning, or if you realize it’s time to look into new business , this article will help you take your business communication to the next level by learning to create alignment with other people.

What do we mean by alignment, and how can you create it? Read on to find out

Alignment – It’s Not Just for Tires

If you’re like most people, it’s likely that the only time you think about alignment is during your regular car maintenance. While that’s not the “alignment” we’re talking about here, it does operate on the same principle.

In order for your car to function at its best, it’s important that your tires are aligned – that they’re all moving in the same direction. The same is true for any ; they’ll be at their best when the people involved are aligned and moving in the same direction toward a result that is  desired by everyone.

What we’re talking about here is not about improving your communication skills or just learning new . Establishing effective business communication, or any interaction where people need to work together to create the best outcome, begins with creating alignment.

Think about it this way: in life, we go about the activity of our lives, heading in our own directions while we’re trying to achieve our own results. At the same time, we are all inter-connected with each other. As we try to achieve the results we want, these interconnections put limits on how far we can go in our direction without the involvement of others.

However, when we have alignment with others about what we want and we start sharing the same vision, it makes it much easier to cooperate with the others involved to get our desired outcomes. Alignment opens the way for mutual satisfaction and greater success.

The First Step is Internal Alignment

Before you can create alignment with someone else, you need to identify and be able to express what’s most important to you about the outcome you want. To do this, you’ll need to identify the underlying hidden within your desired outcome.

As an example, perhaps your team tends to come lat e to meetings and this impacts your ability to accomplish the objectives of the meeting. So you want everyone in the office to show up 10 minutes before a meeting starts. When you dig down to find the hidden value, you might discover that consideration is very important to you, or you might highly value efficiency and effectiveness. Just remember, within every desired outcome there are values that motivate you to want that in the first place.

Key Points for an Alignment Conversation

Once you identify your own underlying values, it’s time to discover the values that you share within the team, partnership or group. You start this discovery process by expressing the values you’ve identified as important to you in your work environment. Then you ask if those things are also important to the others involved, and if they would be willing to explore ways to create that kind of experience.

As you start the alignment conversation, it’s important to remember to keep it as strategy-free as possible. During this beginning stage, we suggest that you make an agreement with the other person to try and identify what’s important to you about the issue at hand , such as starting meetings on time, before you figure out any strategies to get the specifics of what you want. Once you’ve agreed upon your shared vision, there will be plenty of time to move on to the specifics of how to reach your goals.

It’s also wise if you and the other person, or group, agree to avoid spending time talking about the failures of the past. (Bringing up the past can be useful, but only if it is done to understand the values that may have been missing in the past, but not to assign fault or to justify your skepticism.)

Some other things to include in the alignment conversation include:

  • A willingness to negotiate strategies that are mutually agreeable
  • A commitment to let go of judgments and criticisms
  • An agreement to celebrate all wins that come from this conversation

Putting Alignment Conversations to Work

Alignment conversations are the process of discovering your shared values and creating a shared vision. The you create might be something like: having a more harmonious working relationships, being more effective, or increasing productivity.

Once you are sharing the same vision, you’re now working toward the same end result — the big picture of what you all want. This will make it easier to create situations that produce results that everyone will enjoy. Once you’ve define your shared vision, you’re ready to effectively strategies to achieve your desired results.

When everyone is making agreements from a shared vision, you’ll start rolling down the road to cooperation and teamwork with far fewer bumps than you encountered before. Alignment and shared vision are the foundation of cooperation and teamwork that will increase productivity and create rewarding results for everyone involved.

 


Be Your Own Boss!

Don’t Tell Me What to Do

Are you tired of people telling you what to do all the time? Do you long to make your own decisions and live your own life–confidently? If so, then it’s essential that you learn to make inwardly motivated decisions, ones that are driven by your personally chosen  and that are expressed as conscious intentions. Simply put, this is how to Be Your Own Boss.

Whether you know it or not, you always have an intention, but if you have an unconscious intention and it’s motivated by limiting beliefs then you’ll end up simply reacting to your circumstances, or as we like to say, re-enacting your past experiences over and over again.

To be your own boss you need to develop your internal authority. This internal authority comes from having a very clear understanding of what’s most important to you at a values level. Internal authority also comes from your ability to create clear conscious intentions based on these values, which in turn motivate the actions you choose to take.

Sadly, most of us have an extremely underdeveloped internal authority, which means our actions are dictated by our limiting beliefs, and our past experiences as they are triggered by external stimulus. If this is true, then whenever we are challenged by a difficult situation we often just react, mostly without even thinking.

What’s Most Important to You?

Changing this pattern and becoming your own boss is only possible when you develop your internal authority. Only when your internal authority is functioning as an expression of your values and conscious intentions will you have the opportunity to respond to situations with true authority.

The very first step in making these inwardly motivated decisions is to know what you most deeply. So if you’d like to start making decisions confidently–decisions that will be satisfying for everyone involved–start by slowing down and getting to know the person you really are.

The next time something happens, and you are feeling dissatisfied with the situation, stop and ask yourself “What do I value that’s missing for me in this situation?” When you come up with the answer, then ask yourself, “What can I do in this moment that is in harmony with my values and that will create more of what I want?”

“I saw that everything really was written there before me, and that the doors had only been closed before because I hadn’t realized that I was the one person in the world with the authority to open them.” ~Paulo Coelho

Choose to be your own boss today!

When you learn to stop reacting, and start responding with authority in everyday situations you will experience a kind of personal freedom you’ve only imagined. You are in control of your life and your experience when you choose to be.

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Mission Possible! Your job, if you choose to accept it. . .

is an Inside Job

Have you ever heard thoughts rattling around in your head such as these?

  • “I’m not good enough to ____”
  • “They don’t really care about me”
  • “I just don’t have what it takes.”

This kind of thinking feeds on the belief that success in the world is measured by who’s doing what or getting what, and how we’re not measuring up. This thinking vibrates with an underlying sense of fear and unworthiness.

What if, every time you heard yourself thinking something like this, you asked yourself a question that radiated joy? Benjamin Zander describes these kinds of questions in his book, The Art of Possibility. They include questions like: “How can I contribute today?” and “What can I do in this situation to make a difference?”

Would You like to Make a Difference?

Try this on for a day. Instead of by what you believe to be other people’s standards, start your day believing that you are a gift just the way you are.

Now you might be asking yourself, “How could I make a difference? What could I do to contribute?”

If you find yourself entertaining these doubts, this story–also from The Art of Possibility–may speak well to them.

Strolling along the edge of the sea, a man catches sight of a young woman who appears to be engaged in a ritual dance. Drawing closer, he sees that the beach around her is littered with starfish cast up by a storm from the previous night. She is throwing them one by one back into the sea.

He lightly mocks her: “There are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. What difference can saving a few of them possibly make?”

Smiling, she bends down and once again picks up another starfish to toss back into the surf, saying serenely, “It certainly makes a difference to this one.”

Seeing the World through -Colored Glasses

In a world seen through the lens of lack, limitation and fear, thoughts might easily focus on, “too many starfish, not good enough, not enough time, what did they ever do for me?” etc.

But as the story reveals, it’s not a matter of the “success or failure” of the rescue mission, or what proportion of the starfish survived or perished. Absent also are the familiar concerns with fairness, progress, or ability.

Instead, life is revealed as a place where you have something to contribute. Where there is always some small good you have to offer.

Listed under the category of Contribution on our Core Values List we include: Assist. Facilitate, Serve, Provide, Strengthen, and Improve.

Impossible to I’m Possible

Your Mission Possible, if you choose to accept it, is to define your success in terms of contribution, and to use that same lens to witness the actions of others, looking also for the contribution they are attempting to make through their actions. By doing so you redefine the meaning of success, and with this change will come a renewed sense of personal power.

This week start each day with the following questions:

How will I contribute today?

What form will my contribution take?

How can I recognize the contribution other people in my life make to me?

And remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

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