Reflect and Refocus: A New Year’s Count Down

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Kathleen Schafer

As the roar of the Holiday season quiets down, people look to the New Year as a time start fresh and to reorient habits and behaviors that may not be serving them well. What often gets lost in creating the new is the value of reflecting on the past, so that beginnings are created on the foundation of lessons learned, rather than on the hopes that our fears will no longer dictate our behavior. For those Living the Leadership Choice, the following is a guide for seven days to a NEW year:

Day 1: Foundation: Our most basic need is be safe and secure. In some way, almost everyone feels as if these needs are in danger creating fear and anxiety in our lives. The truth is that our fear is not reality. Take a moment and play out the worst-case scenario, i.e., I lose my job, my house burns, down, etc. Think of yourself as a friend would and reflect on what you would say if this happened to him or her. Perhaps you would reassure the person how talented they are and how easy it will be to find a new job or what a great opportunity to find and even better place to live. Now write down all the foundational aspects of your life that are strong and will always serve you well; regardless of the situation you will always these qualities as the foundation for your life.

Day 2. Creativity: Everyone has a creative impulse; indeed it is the seed of the contribution you are here to make. Creativity is not limited to the “do it yourself” crowd, it can be found in the kitchen, classroom and boardroom. Reflect on the past year and the ways in which you expressed your creativity and write them all down. Next, identify the time you felt the best in your creative pursuits, when things flowed and you felt light and happy. Finally, write down three qualities you brought to the experience, i.e., I put the ingredients together in a new way or I was able to create serenity in the negotiations so that we could establish common ground. Those three qualities are at the core of the talents and strengths you are to bring to the world.

Day 3. Action: Without question, an honest reflection of the year past will reveal those moments when we backed away from taking action on something that would have moved us toward our goals. Understanding what held us back in those moments, allows us to release patterns that no longer serve us so that when those opportunities arise again (and they will) that we make a different choice. Today, look back at those moments and identify the fear that kept you from taking the next step. Next repeat the process from Day 1 and work through the issues that kept you stagnant. You’ve already seen what happens when you don’t step toward your dreams, make 2014 the year when you boldly move forward.

Day 4. Love: Leadership is love in action. Love is the courage to trust yourself, your magnificence and believe in it so much that you are prepared to build your life around sharing your gifts with the world. Today, write a love letter to yourself and detail the ways in which you will bring your talents and strengths to your family, community, work and world. Be sure to include your goals and aspirations as if they are sure to happen—and voila, you have a beautiful roadmap for the coming year.

Day 5. Results: Essential to leadership is real world results and without them we haven’t reached our true potential. One challenged in experiencing our power, is that we often don’t take the time to acknowledge when we have achieved something we only dreamed about a short time ago. Begin today’s exercise by writing down your achievements this year. Next, go back and identify when you first aspired to achieve that goal—and recognize how easily many of them were accomplished. Finally, go back to your letter and identify what success would look like for your goals. Keep this letter near for the coming year and celebrate every time you reach a milestone. It will keep you motivated and make each one a joy to achieve.

Day 6. Insight: One of my favorite leadership attributes, is insight. Without understanding others and ourselves building connections is impossible. Today reflect on the past five days and discern what you have learned about yourself. What do you long to do in your work? Where do you really want to live? What creates happiness in you? Now repeat the process for those with whom you share your life. You will have a much greater understanding of how to navigate the inevitable challenges that will come this year making it easier to stay on your course.

Day 7. Contribution: We all have goals, desires and wants, yet, what brings joy into our lives is based on what we give. The goal of this last day is to create a mantra for your contribution in 2014. What is it that you will give to every person with whom you interact? For example, mine is: I guide people in connecting to their leadership potential. A simple reminder for me to anchor my interactions with my kids, colleagues or clients, and in those moments when we need a guidepost in a storm, it is a very useful tool.

Enjoy the exercises and may 2014 be a year for your leadership to shine!

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