A new year signals a time for transformation in both our personal and professional lives.
Common new year themes like reflection, organization, and planning dominate most people’s thoughts but living these themes long term is a challenge.
Although we want to show up as our most authentic selves, it is normal to struggle with making it a reality.
Creating meaningful and lasting transformation requires a combination of focus, mindfulness, and accountability.
The question is: how do we harness energy & vitality and bring a new sense of vigor into everything we do?
Where Are You Now? Taking Stock
Assessing where you currently are – or taking stock – is one of the most powerful ways to be intentional about your goals.
Taking stock means something different for everyone, but it generally refers to the process of looking at your life as it is now and gaining clarity about how you got here and what would need to change for you to reach the next phase.
Believe it or not, assessing where you are with your current energy and vitality levels starts with your smallest daily habits. Take a look at what you do every day:
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Do you rely on coffee or energy drinks to get going in the morning?
- What about your eating habits?
These are just a few questions to ask as you begin to assess where you are and they are relevant because they are directly connected to what drives us or what saps us of energy.
Our daily habits are driven by mental and physical energy. Forcing yourself to get through the day, over time, will take a negative toll. The problem is, many people go through the motions and never stop to think about what it is they want.
Once you can objectively look at your habits and your feelings, you can then begin to unveil patterns that have been holding you hostage.
From a societal perspective, we are taught to power through the tasks to accomplish a goal. Even if we are not personally invested in the outcome, we are expected to approach the task with gusto to make sure it is completed.
The problem with this approach is that it contributes to burnout and has the opposite of the intended effect: it makes us less productive.
Per the Gallup State of the American Workplace: 2010-2012 report, only a dismal 30 percent of American workers reported that they were engaged in their workplaces.
It is so ingrained that your work life and your personal life should remain separate that many workers do not even expect to enjoy their jobs.
Research conducted by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi revealed that there is a causal link between enjoying a task and being productive in completing that task.
When you have a negative view of a task (or experience), productivity is thrashed and it takes you longer to get things done.
Conversely, when you have a positive view of what you are doing, you can complete tasks much faster. You feel energized and excited about what you are doing and it is easier to focus on the result.
Energy and vitality are so vital to everything we do that there is no real way to separate our personal and professional lives.
The energy and vitality we bring to a work task, for example, is inevitably impacted by what is happening in our personal lives.
Some people are better at compartmentalizing these feelings but the overlap is still bound to happen. Being intentional about how we approach our lives is imperative for reaching more challenging goals.
Achieving a healthy balance of sleep, movement, and activities that demand creative attention is not easy, but the rewards will be well worth it if you can shift your focus. Look at your energy levels as an indicator of how well you are adjusting to life.
This feedback provides key clues that help you understand what motivates you and what depletes you. Instead of mindlessly completing tasks simply because you are used to doing them, take a moment to think about how you feel before you start the task, how you feel while you complete the task, and how you feel once the task is completed.
Gain Clarity for Your Next Steps
After tracking your habits for a specific period, you begin to see patterns. What you learn about yourself can be eye-opening, but it can also cause some mental discomfort.
Change on any scale is difficult for most people and the self-evaluation process is not linear.
You will experience the highs and lows of self-discovery that are critical for creating lasting change. For personal goals, gaining clarity is necessary to let go of the things that are holding you back.
Much in the same way you evaluate your personal life, you will evaluate your professional life and learn some things about yourself (both good and bad).
It takes tremendous courage to critically evaluate how you have navigated your professional world and be accountable for your actions and choices.
Learning some practical steps toward clarity is a process that can be tedious at times, but it is well worth it to explore the things that have held you back.
Start small with these steps:
1. Reset your surroundings.
Each day, we have thousands of sensory experiences that our brains have to process, including what happens in our physical environment at home and work.
Humans are more visual compared to animals, so if your workspace or home is in a constant state of chaos, your ability to focus is negatively affected.
Survey your surroundings and make a plan, little by little, to clear clutter and organize your space. Commit to reducing some form of clutter – either mental or physical – daily, weekly, or even monthly.
2. Discover your passion.
What makes you light up? Take some time to write down what you are passionate about. Create passion statements centered on your personal and professional goals.
Consider your passion statements the equivalent of a personal mission statement. Similar to an organizational mission statement, a passion statement should include your core values, what you hope to accomplish, and how you believe you will get there.
Your passion statement does not need to be lengthy, but it does need to be meaningful, so take as much time as you need to develop it.
3. Reduce or eliminate distractions.
When you audited your daily habits, you may have discovered chunks of time were lost on seemingly innocent tasks like checking your email constantly, watching television for hours, or going down the social media rabbit hole.
When you are proactively working toward improving your life, immersion in goal-setting is key, so distractions must be given as little attention as possible.
Starve your distractions and feed your focus.
Getting Excited for The Changes Ahead
The best way to get clear on what you want is to eliminate everything that does not align with your goals.
Removing habits and behaviors that no longer align with your short-term and long-term goals is what living intentionally is all about.
The plan is just one ingredient for success; executing the plan is where major changes happen.
Gaining the clarity necessary to push forward is not an overnight process.
Revamping your personal and professional life with energy and vitality is only realized through strategic, evidence-based approaches. KeenAlignment specializes in Strategic People Operations® that empower companies and employees to focus their efforts, harness resources, and emphasize the human side of the business.