You've probably heard some good entrepreneurial resolutions--attend more conferences, lose weight or finally get organized, for example. Those common goals are are absolutely worthwhile. But if you really want to see a dramatic shift in your life and degree of success, you have to aim for resolutions that go deeper, too, the ones you aren't necessarily going to have visual or metrical proofs for. These resolutions don't just change your behavior. They change your entire outlook on yourself, others and the world.
1. Listen with the intent of learning.
As Stephen Covey famously remarked, most of the time, when we have a conversation, we listen to respond. Our focus is on coming up with an answer that will make us look intelligent or impressing the other person. But when you listen to understand, you help your listener feel respected and heard. And when people feel that way, they trust you and your relationship deepens. And since you're truly centering your attention on their words, you'll remember more and reduce the amount of information you miss.
2. Do one act of kindness every day.
It can be as simple as holding the elevator door for someone. But when you look for ways to help people, you become much more sensitive to the fact no one is perfect or invincible. That can silence the nagging voice that makes you worry about keeping up with the Joneses. You can forgive yourself and relax a little. Acts of kindness also are a fantastic way to boost your spirit and sense of purpose. Scientifically, when you see others smiling or hear their kind words of response, your mirror system triggers the release of chemicals--for example, dopamine--that help you feel happy.
3. Admit when you do something wrong.
The majority of people hide their mistakes because they're afraid of being judged and ostracized if they do. They don't want to look inferior, unintelligent or otherwise unworthy. But if you do it in such a way that it's clear you want to take responsibility and fix the problem, others will see the admission as a sign of integrity. You can ask for support without being embarrassed, and in the process, help others feel like they're useful and needed.
4. Say yes more.
Maybe your kids ask you to play another five minutes (even though you'll be late). Maybe someone suggests a stretch project that scares you. In either type of case, saying yes helps you see that, despite the pressures of technology or social systems, you have the power to live in the moment. You reconnect with what you want rather than what people tell you to be or do. And when you do that, you gain a much more fulfilling sense of who you are. And if you have doubts this can balance with professional success, ask megastar producer Shonda Rhimes. She asserts that saying yes was the key to saving herself from burnout.
5. Ask yourself not just what you're feeling, but why.
Recognizing feelings in yourself is a foundation for good empathy that builds relationships. But when you also ask yourself why you feel a particular way, you're forced to think about what you've experienced and who you are. You can identify negative and positive triggers and take more deliberate steps to cope or react more effectively. And quite often, when you have the why behind a powerful emotion, that emotion doesn't seem nearly as scary and is easier to face.
Will sticking to these resolutions be easy? Probably not. But as the saying goes, if it's not difficult, it's not worth doing. So roll up your sleeves. Invest in yourself. The only way you can go is up.