We’ve reached that time of year where everyone is focussed on the new year ahead, already thinking about their new year’s resolutions in the hope that this year, they’ll be able to stick to them longer than a few weeks. We hear the phrase, ‘New year, new me’, as we make promises to ourselves that next year we’re going to try and be a better human, one way or another.
In doing so, do we make our resolutions for the new year too ambitious and, sometimes, too strict? We see it as almost a punishment for over-indulging and enjoying the holidays and yet, most of us don’t stick to our resolutions because we’re too hard on ourselves and we can’t make them a habit. We’re in for a turbulent year ahead in an already hectic world and if we set ourselves completely wild new year’s resolutions, we’ll only add to the chaos in our lives.
Instead of conjuring up really out-there resolutions and then feeling struck down, we should be kinder to ourselves and look at improving what we already know and do. With this in mind, here’s a manageable and sticky approach to new year’s resolutions and a look into what we could be doing more of in the New Year:
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we learn something new every day. It could be a new piece of technology that we’ve read about in the news, a new way of working that we’ve learnt from a podcast or a new way of thinking we’ve learnt from our friends. The digital resources around us are saturated with new content every day and we need to continue to take advantage of it. As well as continuing to learn new facts, figures and information, we also need to learn more from our mistakes too.
Think about the parallels between Samsung launching its first foldable phone and Greggs launching its first vegan sausage roll. Both of which happened this year. Samsung, having experienced a string of hardware problems in the past, chose to rush its highly anticipated product to market only to discover that the product was flawed once in the hands of reviewers. Greggs, on the other hand, did well. Whilst it may not have been the first brand to break into the vegan sausage roll market, it executed a campaign that boosted shares by 13%, the best performer on the FTSE 100 at the time.
The difference? Greggs listened and learned from its audience. The spike in veganism and vegan-friendly products over the last couple of years meant that it was the perfect time for Greggs to enter the market. So much so that everyone was wanting to taste the new product. That’s where listening and learning can take you.
One of the things I admire about Bill Gates that he talks about in his documentary, Inside Bill’s brain, is his ‘think weeks’. Twice a year, he’ll spend a week locked away in a secret cabin reading papers on all different kinds of topics, expanding his mind and outlook of the world. When I learned about this, I was in complete admiration and jealous! One of the busiest people in the world still finds time for himself and uses it in a productive way. So for us, there are really no excuses.
Whilst I’m not suggesting that we all run off to a cabin in the middle of no-where and read all the Jane Austen novels backwards, we should make the time to read something outside of our daily reading routine. Most of us will probably read the latest headlines or social media updates or newsletters so why not try exploring a new platform? Maybe find a new subreddit or Forbes columnist, even broadening out to the likes of podcasts and audio books to find another way to digest information. Reading and digesting information helps us in some many ways whether it’s inspiration for a blog, learning something or just keeping up to date with the world. And we should be doing more if it.
Walk into a gym in January and no doubt it will be heaving with people trying to shave off the pounds after Christmas. Then, in February, it begins to die down because people have stretched themselves too much. Instead of going in at the deep end when it comes to exercise, try making small changes. Remember, we’re not starting new, we’re trying to improve what we already do. That could mean walking to work rather than taking the tube or taking a regular walk round the office to stretch your legs.
Wellness is a huge trending topic at the moment, and everyone has a desire to be healthier but that doesn’t mean we have to push ourselves or plan to run a marathon. Small changes and switches to our normal routine is enough to clear our mind and start fresh.
More quiet time
With social media and new outlets churning out content every hour of the day, there’s never a quiet moment in comms and that means as comms professional, we also have little quiet time. Although it’s in our nature to work in fast-paced environments and keep busy, we also need to make time for more quiet moments to avoid complete exhaustion and burnout. That could mean taking ourselves away from the office for a couple of hours or working from home more often.
A quiet environment where you become lost in your own thoughts is important to let creative thinking flow.
More face-to-face time
I knew a head master who called any TV a moron’s lantern, but these days the email has become the modern-day mind pollutant. Every time we come back from a long holiday or break, we dread the first day back where we have to sift through the mountain of emails we’ve received. As well as taking up a lot of our time, emails are also pretty poor at getting our message fully across because we don’t have any audio or visual cues to justify the tone or style of the communication.
Psychology professor, Albert Mehbrain, says that there are three basic elements in face-to-face communications, words, the tone of voice and body language. And according to his study, words account for only 7% of the messages meaning with tone of voice and body language making up 38% and 55% respectively.
So, to really make our message count and mean something, it’s best to meet face to face or at least have a conversation on the phone. An email will only get us so far in terms of communicating and building a relationship so face to face time is valuable.
Staying strong in the New Year
We often associate the new year with starting afresh and whilst it’s good to be ambitious and motivated to do more good things, we should also maintain and do more of the things we enjoy too.
In that case, maybe we should drink more coffee because sometimes, and for all the right reasons, we need that extra burst of energy!
Or maybe you should commit and focus on just one resolution that will last all year. One is enough and better than none. Which one will you decide, commit and succeed upon?