By the time we reach midlife we know that life sometimes deals us blows and give us challenges and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how quickly, unpredictably, and dramatically things can change. However, we always have the power to control ourselves and our response to change. In this way, we can feel a sense of achievement again and this will influence our life and leadership at work, too.
Whatever ambitious your goals are for 2021, the best you could do is becoming a better version of yourself. Don’t let your age or circumstances to stop you from improving your current situation.
Here are ten resolutions I promise you will keep up past February. The most important thing to remember, when you make them, is that you own them, and it is in your power to achieve them.
Be optimistic and inspire others to believe that things will get better
To be optimistic requires a shift in our thoughts to ‘look on the bright side’. Optimism in the workplace promotes a high energy level, creativity, inspiration, leadership and a hopeful approach to both problem-solving and daily tasks. The good news is that we can train ourselves to look for the silver lining and this is proven to have a positive impact on our health and well-being. A large-scale study of women conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that the more positive women were, the more they could combat ill-health. Optimistic women are 30% less likely to die of cancer, heart disease and stroke – so there’s the proof you need to change your mindset in 2021.
Trust in yourself and others to deliver
To trust in ourselves comes from a position where we ease up on self-criticism and start to believe that we can actually do the things we want to do in midlife. It takes courage to trust in ourselves and to find our inner strength (when so often it is easier not to try in the first place). This also matters to those around us, who need to be trusted to get on with the tasks and information we share with them as leaders, so that they can make decisions for themselves.
Someone who epitomizes this is the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern. As Dr John Blakey explains in a recent essay for Marie Clarie UK: “she is the leader who is walking the talk when it comes to relying upon the power of trust, rather than trusting in power“.
Demonstrate empathy and try your absolute best to understand others needs
One of the outcomes of 2020 was the clear recognition that leaders who have demonstrated empathy in an authentic way have created happier and more engaged teams around them, even in a time of crisis. Simply asking ‘how are you feeling today?’ has been a step-change for some leaders. By asking the question and then, most importantly, listening to the answer, leaders have developed a greater understanding about how individuals and teams feel and how situations are impacting them.
Pause and reflect each day
Rushing around does not allow for reflection and isn’t good for your productivity and creativity. So, in 2021, try to create time and space in your day, to fully think about things and see everything in context. Make a habit of thinking back on the day’s events and working through them, to decompress your mind and settle your thoughts. Let your mind dwell on the things that have happened and how this has shaped your actions during the day, and this will prepare you for the next day and for what is to come after that.
Define the purpose for yourself and for others so that we all know what is required
When people understand why they need to do a task, they do it better. So, if we learn to define the purpose, not just for ourselves but also for others, we help everyone to achieve more. Leaders who give a clear direction about their values and their aims, enable others to see the purpose in their work, and how the task in hand is aligned to these values.
Take time out of your regular daily work routine to do exercise
We know that exercise has a powerful effect on our health and well-being and whatever form it takes, it helps to steady our mind and soul. Just spending time outside doing some exercise at least once a day, and taking deep breaths of fresh air, will replenish you. You will be amazed at how this helps you to feel reinvigorated in your work and business life.
Collaborate and create solutions, not problems
There is great strength in collaborative teamwork, where contributions from each member are valued and time is given over to discussion and maybe even disagreement. Leaders looking for successful outcomes will take time to involve everyone in coming up with ideas about how a problem can be overcome. For successful work, we need to find ways to collaborate across the business and cooperate on a larger scale.
Communicate every day, using all the different methods of communication you have at your disposal
One of the key learnings from 2020 has been the power and necessity of good communication. In 2021, we must take forward what we have learned about which communication methods work best, and about how often we need to communicate.
A great example of authentic communication on an open platform is the letter that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon wrote to the workforce, at the start of COVID -19, ‘my list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long. Please, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know that we’re going to get through this, together’.
Adapt quickly to situations and not dwell on mistakes
There is a mantra used in successful businesses, ‘fail fast and move on’, which requires us to make decisions based on the information that we have at the time, and if we fail, we take the learning and the feedback and move on. Dwelling on past mistakes does not help us, it holds us back. We must not let yesterday take up too much of today.
In 2021, make sure that everyone in your team feels included, knows they matter, and they can be themselves at work. Recent research points to the fact that what we do and say as leaders make 70% difference as to whether people feel included, and this really matters, because the more people feel included, the more they speak up, go the extra mile and collaborate which in turn leads to business success.
Whether you pick just one resolution from this list or follow all of them may this new year be the one you’ll be set-up for success in your life and work.
Do you know?
The tradition of making new year’s resolutions dates back 4000 years to the Babylonians who, it is said, made certain promises to settle their debts and return anything that wasn’t theirs to the rightful owner. Then around 46 B.C, the Romans created the ritual of setting resolutions on 1 January. The month of January is rooted in Janus, a god who was particularly important to the Romans. It was believed that Janus could use his two faces to both look back on the outgoing year, and forward to the next one.