Whoosh! A new decade is upon us. That was fast. Where did the old one go? If you didn't make them already on New Year's Eve, in order to hit the ground running for our next 360 days around the sun, yes, there is still time, dear readers, to come up with resolutions.
As a regular reader, you already know I'm a fan of this annual tradition. I'm not one of those contrarian communications consultants who advocate not making resolutions because they add 'too much stress', or just 'set you up for disappointment'.
No. No. What kind of attitude is that? I assert this is the perfect opportunity to reboot yourself. It's good to set goals.
As Bloody Mary famously sang in one of my favourite musicals, South Pacific: "You've got to have a dream. If you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?"
(Not familiar with the 1958 classic? I encourage you to watch it. Amid its overly enthusiastic application of the then-new Technicolor process, which makes the film look like you've pushed the saturated Clarendon filter on Instagram, and the cringey song objectifying women, 'There Is Nothing Like a Dame', there are also a lot of really great tunes, plus an overall uplifting message about diversity and relationships.)
So, I'm going to whole-heartedly advocate for us all to write down another round of professional resolutions. Can't think of any? I'll share my top three:
1 Resolved: Get serious about self-affirmations
When we feel bad, hopeless or foster a negative attitude, we often act out with negative behaviours.
We isolate ourselves. We eat or drink to excess. We ignite personal or professional drama. We spend ourselves into desperate financial straits.
That's because, as psychologists will tell you, our subconscious mind plays a critical role in the actualisation of our lives, and the realisation of our desires and goals. In other words, what we tell ourselves about ourselves impacts on our outcomes.
Therefore, I put this at the top of the list because it's the foundation that any goal is built upon.
Tell yourself: "I can do this. I am capable. I am good enough. I will get out of bed."
Break it down incrementally to the smallest of tasks. Whatever you need, you need to say it to yourself first.
If you want to get ahead, the best way to reduce negative self-talk is to fill your brain with the positive stuff first.
Remember, you might feel silly doing this, but affirmations are to be written in the present tense.
Don't write: "I'm going to be worthwhile and influential when I get promoted."
Instead write: "I am worthwhile and influential right now." The purpose here is to reprogram your mind.
2 Resolved: Affirm others
Don't just affirm yourself. Encourage other people too.
Last month, I had lunch with a friend who had just taken over the helm of an investment company. I also happen to know a direct report who works there and she mentioned that morale was dropping because "the new boss doesn't pay attention to us".
I gently enquired and my friend initially tried to dismiss the problem. He admitted he initially does walk past everyone on his way to the office every morning: "I like to go to my office first and put my things down and then I go back and say hello."
"Do you always come back? Or do you sometimes make a couple of calls or check things on your computer? Do you ever perhaps not make it back to the front office at all?" I pressed.
"Well, now that you mention it, yes," the new boss admitted, seeing the light. "I will start greeting everyone when we're all back in January!"
If you're a boss, don't rush through the halls with your head down or, worse yet, appear distracted by some Bluetooth call.
Whether you're in the office, the department store or the gym, get out of yourself and consciously make an effort to enquire about and encourage the other people around you. Remember, you are worthy and influential. Each of us can positively or negatively influence others.
3 Resolved: Build your network
Finally, for 2020 and throughout the brand-new decade almost upon us, I'm going to make a concerted effort to expand my circle of professional contacts, mentors and friends.
While Oxford psychology professor Robin Dunbar points out that humans cannot really have more than 150 friends (and only five close friends) due to limitations in brain size, attention span and plain old time, it is still worth the effort to meet and cultivate new acquaintances.
Each person may not become a bosom buddy, but referrals and recommendations are the best way to move up the ladder or over to a new place of employment.
Next week, in 'The Communicator':
For those of you resolving to land a new job in the new year, don't miss next week's column in which I interview a global recruiter who has some surprising tips on how you can stand out from the competition.
In the meantime, I hope each of you have rung in a safe and happy new year.