Intention in the New Year


For most of us, this week marks the full return to the office grind. We’ve closed the books on the 2018 financials and we’ve packed up the holiday office decorations; now it’s time to pivot into the New Year. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Think about it. When we look in the mirror and tell the reflection, “This year I will…,” we’re usually claiming that our goal for the coming year is to undo the complications created by the previous years’ unhealthy choices. Said another way, our resolutions tend to be reactionary. I will get more exercise (because the four-year-old treadmill is a permanent clothes hanger). I will spend more time with the people I love (because I’ve neglected these relationships for a long time). I will save more this year (because I still haven’t won the Mega Millions Jackpot). While all the above “resolutions” may be necessary actions for you and yours, they are not aspirational. It’s like trying to walk forward while wrenching your head and neck to see behind you.

What if we articulated daily intentions instead of trying to fulfill reactionary resolutions? How does life change for us if we begin to view every sunrise and the day that follows as bonus time, time to make the little tweaks that will strengthen health, financial position, business prospects, etc? I will tell a team member how much I value their work TODAY. I will listen more intently TODAY. I will do some strategic planning TODAY. I will be kind to my body TODAY. I will invest in my employees TODAY. I will be courageous TODAY. Here’s the aspirational part… Intention TODAY begins to reshape TOMMORROW’s outlook. No resolution needed. Not sure where to begin with your intentions? Let me suggest a few that will provide some immediate return for you and your team.

Celebrate the Small Victories…

 Let’s be honest, everyone on your team – including you – appreciates some praise. So, be intentional in recognizing achievement. On Fridays, carve five minutes into the office routine to honor good ideas, a customer service win, positive feedback from the top floor, and personal milestones too. This intentional celebration communicates to your crew, “I value you and what you do.” You don’t need to order cake and hire a DJ, but you should make the celebration public and worth your team’s time.

Create an Intentional Reading List…

Are there some new trends and technologies in your field that you need to “read up” on? Put some titles on your list that explore the trends and technologies that are reshaping your business. Also, explore titles that take you beyond your lane. For example, AI. You may not work in Artificial Intelligence, but you can assume your business is impacted by AI. One more thing… If you are intentional about creating a reading list, be sure to create some personal time to do the reading.

Develop an Innovation Intention… 

Along with recognizing team successes, give your team some opportunities to innovate. I’ve discussed this before. Provide the people in your department with opportunities to do some inhouse entrepreneurship. An openness to new products, processes, and “prophecies” about future trends, keeps your charges impassioned about their work and grateful to work for you.

Plan strategically… 

Most business leaders are so swamped by the short-term sales goals and personnel issues, that they don’t earmark time to plan strategically. As you tweak product lines, consider new hires, and reassign exiting team members, ask yourself, “How will this decision impact us in 1, 3, and 5 years?” Engage in some strategic planning for yourself too. What can you do right now that will improve your skills, productivity, and advancement potential down the road?

Resolutions Kill

The problem with resolutions is that they are so lofty at times, we are unable to deliver on our big plans. Today’s resolution becomes tomorrow’s regret. I say shift toward intent in lieu of resolutions. Do some little things right now that cumulatively move the needle tomorrow. As you move toward intent, remember to balance your plans so the impact is felt in both the professional and personal domains. When intent delivers results, make sure you congratulate yourself.

Cheers and all the best in 2019!