Here are three ways you can improve your work – and your workplace – in the New Year.
1. Know what you’re doing before you worry about how you’ll do it.
We jump to thoughts of implementation so often in our work, and that tendency creates several problems. We may not know exactly what we’re implementing, why we’re implementing it or how much is possible. By skipping ahead to the details, we begin work that may not make sense — and we unnecessarily constrain ourselves. This year, be mindful about each idea you’re pursuing and determine its larger purpose before running forward with activities. It’s not about what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.
2. Spend at least 15 minutes a day in deliberate thought about something bigger than your to-do list.
This is critical. I believe in mornings – but for some people, it works best to do this exercise at the end of the day to prepare for the next morning. What larger purpose defines you right now? One year from now, what will you be glad you did tomorrow? Ten years from now? What are the big things that need to happen to advance those aspirations? I believe the sum of our efforts each year reflects the rigor we apply to these larger questions. Take a few minutes each day to ask them. You may not have every answer, but you’ll make smarter choices along the way – and let the little crap go more easily. For me, five minutes at the start of my workday plus nightly blogging are tools I use in trying to step out of everyday to-do lists and think about what ideas matter most each day. What tools can you put into place to schedule reflection?
3. Think about what unites your colleagues rather than what’s in it for you.
The best workplaces in the world have something in common: Colleagues embrace a collective vision, and they’d do anything for each other. I’d always prefer to be in that kind of culture than a dog-eat-dog slugfest because it’s better for me and better for my organization. Try to set a course toward that kind of camaraderie. Define what you all want to do together. Along the way, share credit. Recognize the achievements of others. Sacrifice something selfish if it yields a greater good. If you are a manager, you have the chance to transform the experience of those who report to you. Seize it with a spirit of selflessness. In the end, it’s the fastest way to achievement – and happiness – for everyone.