I originally wrote this post in 2012 but it still holds true. Now though, I would also refer to the year when my resolution was to refresh my underwear drawer-best resolution ever. It took one day, one shopping trip and… voilà, resolution kept!
Bonne année to you and yours.
There’s no shortage of posts, articles and tweets debating the pros and cons of making a New Year’s resolution. It’s a silly debate because it’s not about the resolution, it’s about the outcome. People aren’t averse to setting goals, they’re afraid of failing. So instead of making a promise, make a plan.
In her column, Take a Flying Leap, in the January O Magazine, Martha Beck points out: “The leap from your mind to your calendar is the moment of commitment.” So if you want to see friends more often, pick up the phone now and book three dinner parties… voilà, resolution kept.
While my archive post below speaks to small steps, Beck’s got me thinking about loftier goals. Had the Mayans been right, I’m not sure I would have loved my last day on earth. It’s time for me to set the next big goal. (That’s going to make my husband really nervous!) As Beck writes…
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“High thoughts must have high language” Aristophanes
If this is so, then we are in big, I mean huge, trouble.
I can barely stand to listen to the news these days because the Presidential race has debased itself so much. I am shocked at how easily news outlets repeat inappropriate language – or people at the water cooler for that matter. It’s so prevalent, people feel brave yelling “F- her in the P-” to female reporters when they are broadcasting. It has become a strange source of pride.
Let’s be clear, it’s not that I’ve never heard bad language or that I am a prude. The reason I am concerned is I believe in the power of words to inform, to persuade and to create emotion. More importantly, I believe that the type of language used and accepted establishes norms around what’s ok to say to people, to think of them and to do to them. It is very well established that action follows language. If I think of you as an “it” or an “other” then I can justify treating you in a way that I would ordinarily find appalling.
So at the same time as people are normalising “p—y” there is backlash on the use of Indigenous slurs for sports team names. So misogyny is ok but racism is not. Can you imagine a presidential candidate using the N-word in 2016? Why don’t we just say no to both?
And, instead of empty hand wringing, diminishing bad language by calling it “locker room talk” or deflecting by saying there are larger issues that need attention, leaders need to call it out and put a stop to it. In the RCMP, in the Canadian and US military, on university campuses, in organisations and families everywhere we need to denounce language that demeans. Period.
I found this image on quoteschart.com. It provides a far better conclusion than I could and frankly… I am speechless. We need to alter where we are going and quickly.
People consider the CN Tower climb and say: “I could never do that.” So they don’t try. It’s such an imposing sight they don’t realise that the average climb takes 30-40 minutes. I can tell you that I am no athlete and I’ve done it twice in 24 minutes or so. In fact, the time you spend in line waiting to climb the stairs to the CN tower – or waiting for the elevator down- is likely longer than the time it takes for the actual climb.
So why do challenges loom larger in our minds than they are in reality? This applies to fitness goals but also to projects that we’re dreading or difficult conversations we keep postponing.
How do we overcome that?
Here are 8 ways to move from can’t to can.
- Drop the negative. “I could
neverdo that.” “I can ‘trun that far.” Little changes make a big difference. You can try.
- Just start. Invariably, the obstacle in our mind is larger than it is in reality. As my husband’s favourite Christmas movie song says “Put one foot in front of the other…” Prepare if it helps you feel confident but. just.start.
- Look at your barriers.
- Don’t have time? Hire a sitter, a housekeeper, delegate tasks or reprioritize. Are you watching TV? Then you have time.
- Don’t have the experience? Volunteer to learn how. Take a free course on line… Google it! Talk to your employer about professional development if it’s a career goal.
- Don’t have the money? Can you reallocate your budget? Raise money? Barter?Volunteer? Look for a scholarship or free services in your community.
- Establish a system. An article I read in the Huffington Post this week really resonated with me.In Forget about setting goals. Focus on this instead, James Clear offers great advice about setting up systems to get you to your goal. He suggests that rather than setting, for example a weight loss goal, you establish a system of going to the gym three times a week. You have control over that. In a similar vein you can’t get an A if you don’t study so studying is the system and the grade is the result. Remember that your system is not set in stone. Fine tune it as you go.
- Maximize your time. Can you listen to a podcast while you drive or in the shower? Work out with friends so you’re not giving up social time? Get paid while you are learning something? We all have 24 hours in the day. Just like it’s a good idea to eat high value calories – how can you make your time count – for what matters to you?
- Tell others. In his book Influence: The Power of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini explains why people don’t like to back away from commitments – especially those they make publicly. Psychologically, we want to be consistent. He also highlights this next point.
- Ask for help. No one knows everything – period. Asking for help gets you closer to your objective and is flattering for the person you approach. When someone helps you, even in a small way, they become invested in your success.
- List your other successes. Where have you succeeded before? When have you surprised yourself? What are you proud of? Carry that feeling of “I did that” in your heart and apply it to other places in your life.
Carry that feeling of “I did that” in your heart and apply it to other places in your life.
No one is perfect at this. But you can’t grow without stretching. Trying something new is great for your brain, your self-esteem and it helps develop new relationships. So the next time you look at the CN Tower and someone suggests taking the stairs, lace up!
What’s your next challenge going to be? Write a book? Run for office? Speak in public? Run a 5K or more? Go back to school? I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s me this summer at Mudderella. Not my natural environment but I did it and loved it. I met a new group of women. I was inspired by the strength and courage of many women around me and it only took a few hours. Now that’s a good investment. And we’re definitely doing that again.
To quote Ricky Martin: “Nothing can hold you back if you really want it.
I see it in your eyes. You want the cup of life. Now that the day is here
Gotta go and get it… Here we go: Allez, allez allez!”
I want to know: is there one sector where we don’t find rampant sexism? When is this going to stop? Who’s going to show leadership in the boardroom, the classroom and everywhere in between?
I really don’t have to write anything. Just scan the headlines:
- Law: Hearing to begin for Alberta judge who asked sex assault complainant why she couldn’t keep knees together, September 6
- Military: 30 Canadian Forces members punished for sexual misconduct, 97 cases ongoing, August 30
- Advertising: More than half of women in advertising have faced sexual harassment, report says, August 12
- Sport: Why men shouldn’t get the credit when women win in Rio, August 9 and pre-Rio, of course Boxer shorts in the office? Marcel Aubut ‘thought it was normal’
- Food service: Restaurant industry needs to put gender equality on the table, June 15
- Media: VPD investigating FHRITP incident targeting CTV reporter, July 22
Those are mostly stories of women doing their jobs. Sometimes we’re just walking around, travelling, attending class. There are stories about a woman assaulted while sleeping on a plane and the many, many stories about sexual assaults in cities. Too many to list so but here’s just one: Edmonton wants a safer city for women; police still searching for assault suspect. You can find your own version in a city near you – Burnaby, Toronto, Ottawa. Not to leave out the hundreds of Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women.
When will 50% of the population be treated with the dignity it deserves? First – and most importantly – because we are humans. We are your mothers and sisters. We are half the work force and, often, more than half of consumers.
I bet that headline got my husband’s attention – if only because he often reminds me to please turn the volume down on the radio in the en-suite. I’ve taken to listening to TED Talks and Podcasts in the shower and I need the volume cranked up HIGH.
TED Talks and podcasts are a great way to get a quick hit of information or inspiration as I start my day and, at worst, give me fodder for conversation.
I can choose something to help me research a project or to work on my business. I can choose something to help me with parenting or just to inspire me. Sometimes I cheat and listen to the podcast instead of reading a business book.
Coming in at around 20 minutes these snippets are the perfect length and, since they are presented by some of the world’s foremost experts, a credible source of information. They also serve as good models for presentation skills: storytelling, use of pauses, illustrative language, using questions… you know the drill.
Here are some of my favourite TED Talks:
- Guy Winch: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid. I have listened to this one many times and shared it with my children. It’s fabulous.It’s funny and it’s so true.
- Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are. This one will have you standing straighter all day. Mom was right!
Sometimes I cheat on TED and hang out with folks at Stanford Innovation Podcasts. I’m also never disappointed with Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilly. His show is a must for marketers and communicators.
You know what they say, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I like to start my day with some seriously smart people. With whom do you recommend I spend some quality time with ?
I am currently working on a project about art and its impact on community belonging – one of the most significant determinants of well-being.
That’s how I came across a book called Gifts of the Muse* which explores the personal and social benefits of exposure to – and participation in- art.
One aspect that intrigued me was the assertion that being exposed to art and literature gives us different ideas and insights into unfamiliar cultures or contexts. This new knowledge makes us more empathetic. I filed that under “Hmmm…. Interesting.”
Then today I listened to a story titled Gone With A Trace: The story of lost items on the US/Mexico border on CBC’s The Current. It looks at the work of California-based photographer Richard Misrach and composer Guillermo Galindo who are bringing attention to the plight of thousands of desperate Latin American migrants who scale the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico each year.
These two artists are using everyday objects that are lost or abandoned along the border to create art and, in the case of Guillermo, haunting music. Guillermo uses very sensitive, low frequency microphones to record sounds made by items that have been left behind – often by children. These are items like a Blues Clues backpack, a pair of tiny tennis shoes, a child’s bible, pesos, a ball, etc. It struck me that, through Guillermo,these items gave a voice to these voiceless, possibly missing children.
I started my day thinking about getting my kids to camp and a looming deadline. Thanks to the magic of radio and the power of art I have to say I have an instant boost of empathy for the plight of these unaccompanied children. Quite frankly, I am haunted by what I heard.
I invite you to take 20 minutes to let art enrich your day too.
Don’t have 20 minutes? Take 5 to check out 7 art initiatives that are transforming the lives of refugees. I especially liked the girls reclaiming themselves and their space in Saddam Hussein’s castle in Castle Art.
Has art ever given you deeper understanding of an issue? Has it ever propelled you to act? I’d love to hear your story.
*McCarthy, K. et al. (2004) Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the debate about the benefits of the arts, Rand Corporation, 125p.