It’s not easy keeping a business running smoothly for nearly 20 years, but I’ll reach that milestone in June. Because of this, I am often asked for success tips. Below are some answers to some of the frequently asked questions I get. I hope they help you make 2023 your best year yet!
Q: Which is more effective, a theme or a list of resolutions?
Like many people, I used to make an extensive list of things I wanted to fix about myself and my life. I learned to set specific measurable goals, and I sometimes succeeded in losing weight or generating more money. But I was inconsistent.
Later, I discovered my mindset was the cause of some of my failures to fulfill my resolutions. I was not setting goals that aligned with my immediate needs or values. I was choosing what I thought I should or could, and I was making it ridiculously hard on myself so I could feel deserving of the results I got.
Alan Cohen says, “Let it be easy; struggle is not required.” I wondered how I could make it easier to focus. With practice, I found that a simple theme each year focuses my actions and has been far more effective in aligning my goals with what matters most to me.
Here are some of my themes from prior years:
- Unreasonableness (2012) – Each time I had a reason (excuse) for not having or pursuing what I wanted, I challenged myself to try what I thought wouldn’t work. Among other things, that was the year I met Peter. I was unapologetically me. On our first date, we talked about religion, politics, and many of the things we had been told we shouldn’t.
- Miracles (2014) – I allowed myself to welcome experiences I couldn’t explain or control. That year, I was violently assaulted, but I also finally published my first book.
- How Simple Can You Make It (2022)? – It appears my answer is “not very.” I accepted a seven-month project that kept growing. The expectations went far beyond the contract terms and the demands consumed much of my life. I also tried selling and buying a home this year and am still grieving the losses of a dear friend, a cousin, and Peter’s dad. Yet I was also rated a Super Lawyer again and had my share of successes. It was a learning year, and I’ll be building on those lessons for 2023 and many years to come.
Q: How do I make a Vision Box?
I’m so glad you want to do this! Here are the supplies you will need:
- Magazines targeted to your interests. When I host Vision Box parties, I typically have at least one magazine each on business, finances, fitness, simplicity, sport, and travel. Guests have brought magazines on architecture, beauty, cars, theater, and more.
- One pair of scissors
- One glue stick
I use a relatively easy three-step process:
- Give yourself approximately 15 minutes to flip through the magazines. Pull out what calls to you, and put it in a pile. Don’t overthink it. Tear out words and photographs, as you are moved to. Let your subconscious have some say. This process can often reveal wants you don’t know you have, even if you’re not fully aware of them until later in the year. I once tore out the word Zurich because I have a friend in Switzerland. Later that year, I found an amazing deal on a flight to Zurich and spent my birthday that year in Bern with my friend. Allow yourself to dream–and to live those dreams!
- Curate the clippings in your pile. Cut them out neatly. Arrange them in ways that make sense to you. Most importantly, have fun! If you’re doing this with someone else, share what you want to achieve and create this year. This can be a bonding experience, as well as a way to set up some accountability.
- Glue your art to your Vision Box and keep it somewhere you will see it every day. I use clear shipping tape to effectively laminate my Vision Box, and I keep it on a table near my bed. Inside are things I love to revisit each year: cards from loved ones, trinkets from special trips, etc. Throughout the year, I put additional cards and trinkets in the box so I have more to enjoy on New Year’s Day. Some have been in the box for years. Others cap the prior year and get recycled. There’s no one, perfect way to do this. Do what works for you. If you want to show me what you’re up to in 2021, post a photo and tag the Third Ear Conflict Resolution page on LinkedIn.
Q: How can I start the year off better at work?
- Start each day with gratitude. Make a quick list of at least 10 things you like about your work. Be specific. Is it the name recognition of your employer? Your salary? Title? Health insurance benefits? Co-workers? Free coffee and snacks? Vacation policy? Commute time? Something else? After doing this for several days, you will start to see a trend and will be better identify what you value most, as those things will often reappear on your lists.
- List three things you would like to change. Again, be specific. Do you want a raise? By or to how much? Would you like the opportunity to work on different projects? What are you willing to do in exchange for that opportunity? Would you like to work from home occasionally? What would you need to make that work as effective as when you are at your usual work location?
- Brainstorm for 10 minutes (on paper or with a friend) about small actions you could take in January to jump start your career. Do you need more training? Can you take a course through your current employer? A continuing education or professional development provider? Is a career, business, or life coach available? Have you requested a mentor? Do you need a vacation—a real one, during which you are completely vacated from your work? Are you getting enough sleep and exercise? Does your diet maximize good health, mental clarity, and energy?
Q: How do you set your day up for success?
My morning ritual involves:
- Light exercise
- Reviewing my weekly goals and affirmations
- Planning the 10 most important things for me to do today
- Writing 10 things I am grateful for
- Reading something inspirational
When I do not get this in, I often find myself drifting throughout the day. I also tend to accomplish less on those days.
At the end of my day, I move to the next available time anything on my electronic calendar that still needs to be done. This is an old Franklin-Covey technique I learned in my management training at UPS. It still serves me well.
Q: How and why should I keep a gratitude journal?
I have been using a gratitude journal for more than a decade, but you need not buy anything special to be more grateful. You can use the notes on your smart phone or make your list mentally while you are commuting to work, standing in line at the store, etc. Just consider what you are grateful for and list whatever comes to mind.
I am sometimes grateful for sunshine or a clean apartment. Often, it is a relationship with my partner, a friend, a family member, a business colleague, or a vendor. Other common things on my list are health, fitness, financial freedom, or specific experiences.
There is no right or wrong way to make a list of something you are grateful for. Just be grateful for all the wonderful things in your life. It will shift your focus and mood—and it only takes about three minutes!
Q: What’s the best template for a gratitude journal?
I have used a variety of templates and prompts over the years, and each of them have given me new insight about myself and what matters most to me. These tools include Dan Miller’s Rudder of the Day and 48 Days to the Work You Love, T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, Mary Carlomagno’s Secrets of Simplicity, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and my own book, DIY Conflict Resolution, or the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process. I still reach for these occasionally, when I am looking for a breakthrough in a specific area, but I mostly just list 10 things I am grateful for each day to balance the 10 most important things for me to do the same day. I find this reminds me that although I have many responsibilities, it is because I have many blessings.
No journal works best for everyone. Some people like unlined pages they can also draw or doodle on, maybe even in color and with stickers. Busy people might function best with a lined notebook that’s easy to fit in a pocket. Computer programmers or technicians might prefer electronic journals. It’s okay to experiment. The purpose isn’t to make the journal a work of art as much as it is to free you and your life to be a works of art.