January Leadership Advice Deluge has Begun! Resist the Urge to Read It All.
If you want free advice on how to transform yourself into a better leader, January is the month for you. The flow of articles and webinars that launch this month to piggyback on the annual New Year Resolutions wave is as overwhelming as ever.
Last month we cautioned about “holidayitis”. This month, we say avoid “Resolutionitis.” With all this free stuff, the risk is wallowing too much in research, and leaving too little time for action. So spend a bit of time with a few trusted sources of advice, and move on to take action. And when you take action, keep it simple. Too many rounds of New Year Resolutions pile too many habit changes on your plate, making the achievement of any of them impossible. Capitalize on the energy of the New Year’s fresh start.
- You are refreshed, your brain has cleared some of the tactical complexities of your job away, you have a new focus, and you are ready to charge ahead!
- You spent some time toting up and assessing the results of your work in 2014. It is natural to take stock at the end of the year and give an honest appraisal of our successes and failures. It is a good exercise to run, and there is a lot to learn about how to better approach challenges in 2015.
- You used your frank year-end assessment as a basis for planning your first few months of activity in 2015.
- You are champing at the bit to put all that good thinking into action!
Now, it is time to stop and assess your resolution list: You run the risk of over-committing to resolutions that are not practical, conflict with each other and may not focus on your key needs. We encourage you to keep these useful cross-checks in mind:
Cut yourself a break: Everyone had a mixed list of successes and failures last year. Indeed, we bet your 2014 results match up pretty evenly against those of your fellow employees, friends and family.
In the age of self-promotion also known as the Digital Age, it is too easy to think that others are leading far more perfect lives than you; it is the rare person who actually uses social media to bare a soul and share down moments. (Look no farther than the mini-furor over Facebook’s seemingly harmless app to share a 2014 “Year in Review” photo album. People actually raised their hands to say “no thanks!!!”)
Make a few key resolutions, and put monthly milestones against them. What are the two or three key habits you need to change to lead yourself better, and then lead others better? What can you do in January to get started on embedding the positive habits you think will make a real difference in your productivity?
Recruit a co-conspirator or two. A coach always makes an athlete better. Find resolution coach among your mentors or peers. Offer to set up a cross-coaching partnership, especially if your short list of desired habit changes resonates with your counterpart.
Cut yourself another break in February if progress is slow. Habit change is a process, not an event. Bad habits are easy to keep, partly because they usually take less energy (a key attraction of the “dark side.”) Good habits take more energy to embed properly. So if January passes without tremendous progress, stay the course with a recommitment in February.
Be honest with yourself. Do not give yourself credit for progress when you haven’t made much. The truth about where you stand is more useful than feel-good “attaboys” not based on true progress.
Ask for honest feedback from others. You do not want your bad habits to be reinforced by people who mean well, but hold back their true feedback out of a concern for your self-esteem. Make it clear to others that your self-esteem is tied up in the obtaining of the new habits, not retaining the old. You must give your counterparts and other supporters clear permission to be frank at all times!
January is a time of renewed resolve and re-applied energy. The Holiday break really is a time when brains recover their ability to process and evaluate data and make sounder decisions. The trick is to keep the resolutions down to a dull roar, grounded in reality, focused on true needs, and achievable within a few months.
Do you suffer from “resolutionitis?” Do you overcommit, and feel the pain of failure because you set the bar too high every January? On the other hand, do you forego the useful exercise of making resolutions to trade bad habits for good, because you have failed every year to achieve them?
Where is the right balance for you between too many resolutions and too few?