This post was written by Hannah Morris, Director of Facilitation & Evaluation at The Latimer Group.
A single word can have tremendous power. It can focus and center us, and inspire.
Five years ago, I was introduced to the practice of choosing a single word to launch a new year, in place of resolutions. That was 2017, and I chose “breathe” to remind myself of the value of pausing, taking it all in, and giving myself a moment before responding. It helped.
There have been some years when this choice has come easily and felt meaningful, and others where I have ignored the ritual entirely.
This year, I chose “invest”, and it has nothing to do with money.
I started to think of what I would be undertaking this year – at least what I was aware of on January 1 – and how every endeavor required an investment. They were investments of time, energy, and focus – my most precious resources.
We all make choices every day about how and where to allocate those resources. At times, we may feel a loss of control here, especially when other people’s needs require a large share of our resources. But even then, we do still have choices to make. Doing so intentionally can help each of us be more successful, but also help us feel more satisfaction in our professional and personal lives.
With only 24 hours in a day and a finite amount of energy to expend, let’s consider some of the choices we can make:
We can choose to be more present in conversations – both at home and at work – knowing that shorter periods of focused concentration yield better results than longer periods of distracted attention. That investment can change the course of our conversations and help us strengthen relationships.
We can find more opportunities to invest in activities – art, exercise, hobbies, gardening, reading, meditation, journaling, puzzles, crafts – that bring us joy, recharge us, and generally improve our physical and mental well-being.
If we want to learn and develop in specific areas, we can invest in reading articles and books, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and processing. There are more ways to access information, broaden perspective, and enhance skillsets than ever before; a simple search can uncover a trove of learning. To turn that learning into new habits, we can then invest in deliberate practice and a plan to hold ourselves accountable.
If we are feeling disconnected in the hybrid work environment, we can invest more proactively in collaboration and interaction. We can add time to our calendar to connect with colleagues we see less often. We can reach out and engage, check in to see how people are doing and let them know we care. That investment in social connection will also create a buffer in moments when we have to manage conflict.
If we are struggling to focus on our work or just feel the need for a slight change, we can invest in a reorganization of our workspace. We can take steps to make it more ergonometric, attractive, practical, accessible, or simple. With a more intentional design, we may feel more motivated and energized.
As you look ahead to this year and consider what you will be undertaking – both professionally and personally – take a careful look at how you choose to spend your time and energy and see if a reallocation is in order.
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