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December 18, 2014 | Issue 12.2014

In This Issue

Personal Note
Ring Out Those Old Resolutions [Feature Article]
Recommended Resource

Personal Note



Hello, Trailblazer!

This time of year we all tend to be more aware of the passage of time with its cycle of changes and the comings and the goings. This awareness is stronger for me right now because I am ending one Coaching Foundations class for new coaches through MentorCoach as I begin another.

The established class has two more meetings and students are looking for ways to maintain connections and regular support of each other as they anticipate not gathering every week. The new class has met twice and the students are eager and enthusiastic, filled with anticipation of what they will learn about coaching and from each other as they develop relationships. Its a bittersweet experience for me.

In this season of connection and giving, I want to share something with you. My family and I celebrate Christmas, so this my Christmas gift to you. The thing that fills me with happiness and excitement about this gift is that you don’t have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy it. In fact, you don’t have to celebrate any of the year-end holidays to enjoy it. But it will help you see a common thread running through the holidays, one that evolved from our deep shared nature as human beings.

When my friend and coaching colleague Francie Cooper and I had our podcast together, we dedicated the month of December to the theme “Looking for Light.” You can access those archived podcasts through this link. I especially encourage you to listen to listen to the one titled “Light in the Darkness” about the theme of the holidays that connects with our deep nature and evokes powerful emotions. My wish is that you will be moved by the podcast, just as Francie and I were very moved when we recorded it.

As the calendar changes, recognize that it is not completely arbitrary, but rather anchored in the cosmic calendar. The cycle of the year is based on the winter solstice. The calendar year still ends very near the solstice in spite of political changes made in the calendar over the centuries.

If you’re inclined to use the year’s end as a time to look ahead and plan the next year, I believe you will enjoy the pointers in this month’s article. If you plan at a different time of year, save this article and put the ideas in place when you have your next annual planning session.

May you be guided by the light of hope and love as you create your own path,

Stephen Coxsey, MA, LPC, PCC
Leadership Development Coach

P.S. A very special Welcome! to those of you who have signed up since the last issue went out. I’m glad you’re here! As a subscriber to The Trailblazer, you are part of my Advisory Board. I count on all of you for feedback on what you want to see more of and what you want to see less of in future issues. As you read through this issue, please remember:

If you like what you see, please tell your family and friends.
If you don’t like something, please tell me!

Ring Out Those Old Resolutions :::::::::: Feature Article ::::::::::

What’s the last New Year’s resolution you kept? Mine was, “Don’t make a New Year’s resolution.” Most resolutions just dissolve with time. They’re huge ideas filled with purpose but not much direction, or big intentions to overcome bad habits powered by “shoulds.”

Resolution Disillusion

Resolutions tend to be broad and sweeping, like, “I’ll be healthier.” Even more specific statements like, “I’ll get good sleep every night,” can be too broad. Social psychology research shows that the more clear and specific and detailed a goal is, the more likely you are to accomplish it.

Resolutions also tend to be stated in negative terms: “I’ll give up junk food.” When you tell yourself “don’t” your inner rebellious child can wake up and be resentful. Social psychology research shows that it’s easier to stick with a plan that is stated in positive terms, such as, “I will eat healthy food.”

Research on willpower shows that if you tackle too many habit changes at once, you are less likely to succeed. Habit change is a drain on willpower. Changing more than one habit at a time becomes a quicker drain. Since we don’t have unlimited willpower, we have to budget it. Focusing on one big change at a time protects this limited resource and makes success more likely.

Be It Resolved… That It Be Dissolved

I have three suggestions to try in place of resolutions this year. In fact, let your only resolution be, “Try something in place of a resolution.” If the New Year is not your normal time for resolutions or goal-setting, keep these ideas in mind when another benchmark comes around, like a birthday or anniversary.

Reflection

In a specific way, look back at the past year. Think about where you were a year ago in terms of relationships, life transitions, personal development, career, and major life goals. Notice the changes you’ve experienced. Especially notice the things you have accomplished. Instead of getting bogged down by what you didn’t get done, see the things you made happen. In general, we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in the next month and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year or more. Looking back at a whole year of struggles and successes helps you respect how much you actually did, which helps you change your relationship with how you plan future changes.

Themes

If you don’t like to make specific plans or set large targets, think about having a theme or themes for the coming year. You can set a theme for your year to help you bring in more of something you want and avoid what you don’t want. For example, a busy and hectic parent can choose “Family Fun” as a theme to remember to plan a weekly or monthly game night and to have occasional outings just to enjoy each other. Someone feeling stuck in a rut can choose “Adventure” as a theme and find ways to try new things, learn about other cultures and distant times, or even travel. Consider helping an older child or teen set theme like “Try New Sports” or “Read Interesting Books.” You can even establish a theme for a young child such as “Growing Bigger” and encourage things like toilet training, independence with dressing and personal care, and putting away belongings.

SMART Goals

SMART Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (or at least Relevant if “realistic” holds you back), and Time-Defined. This is a fantastic alternative to resolutions. Resolutions, like “Lose 20 pounds” or “Get a new career I’ll love,” are big and distant. SMART Goals are smaller steps towards that big target. Planning to “eat three servings of vegetables and limit carbs to two servings each day for a month” is a great start to losing the weight. “Walk two miles every day when I get home from work or school” is another goal that takes you on the same path, and it includes a specific time cue for when you will do it, which adds power. “Read an article each week about someone finding a creative career” can help you find ideas for a new career. “Work part-time or volunteer one evening per week working with someone in a career that interests me” will help you decide if that career is your calling or not what you imagined it to be.

The Power of Intention

Using Reflection, Themes, and SMART Goals helps you live with purpose and focus. Reflection helps you hone your vision and evaluate your past accomplishments. Themes serve as a compass to keep you on track long-term. SMART Goals show you specific actions you can take to get you where you want to go. Together they are powerful tools to creating your future by becoming the person you want to be and bringing your vision to life.

Application: Try all three this year. If you normally plan time to sit down and think about your resolutions for the New Year, instead spend time on reflection to look at your accomplishments and evaluate what you have learned about yourself. Use that knowledge as you think about what you want to accomplish or create in your life. Consider your values and long-term goals as you choose one or more themes to guide your choices in the coming year. For any clear goal you choose, state it in positive terms, choose time cues or contextual cues to remind you of your intention to act (when I get home from work I will walk two miles), and follow the SMART format to create goals you can accomplish step by step and clearly monitor your progress.

Questions: A year from now, what do you want to be able to reflect on?

Recommended Resource

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About Steve

Steve Coxsey partners with people who want to bring the best of who they are to their leadership roles. Together they custom design a plan that optimizes success and well-being, both for the clients themselves and the people they lead and influence in their personal lives, in businesses, or in organizations. Through coaching and training powered by positive psychology and neuroscience, Steve’s clients develop resourcefulness, agility, and resilience to thrive on a personally meaningful, core-driven path and instill a culture of thriving in the communities they lead.

Steve helps people cultivate their strengths and natural talents so they can take ownership of their productivity and creativity. Then they become powerful, breaking free of other people’s boxes and cubicles and living and working in alignment with who they really are. They design their lives around their values, their purpose, and their natural way of being. They tailor careers or businesses that use their unique strengths and talents and complement their life design. They have a vision for the future based on their core values and principles and can bring their vision to life through leadership.

Would you like that to be you? Get started with a no-risk 30-40 minute consultation. It’s complimentary, so all it will cost you is a little bit of time. You can schedule the complimentary call using this online tool. You can also call 817-416-8971 or e-mail Steve@SteveCoxsey.com to set up the call.

Click here for more information than you could possibly ever want to know about Steve.

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Copyright (C) 2014 Thriving Edge, Inc., and Stephen Coxsey

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