3 Small Resolutions for a Bigger Workday

Posted by Richard Moran.

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The three standard resolutions still apply:

  1. Lose weight and drink less alcohol. While I am at it, I will get in better shape.
  2. Read more and renew that zeal for learning.
  3. Take a serious look at my financial situation and fix it.

But there are three problems with these three resolutions:

  1. The resolutions are easily discarded. By January 3rd you are putting the resolutions off until next year.
  2. Work is the place where you spend most of your time and most work activities hurt keeping the three resolutions. (Consider bagels and red licorice in the kitchen; sitting all day and then being too tired to exercise; and, the not opening the shrink wrap on the financial planning software tool.)
  3. The three resolutions are not related to making work more enjoyable, where you will spend most of your waking hours in the New Year.

Yet, in spite of evidence to the contrary, there are three reasons why one should make resolutions.

  1. It is the time of year to set goals and objectives. To not do it would be an admission that this year will be just like last year. Ho-Hum.
  2. What is measured is improved. Even in small doses.
  3. Many say that success is all about focus. Resolutions create focus.

But resolutions don’t mean anything if they are not implemented. The three keys that will ensure your resolutions might work are:

  1. Write the resolutions down and put the written resolutions somewhere that will serve as a constant reminder.
  2. Make the resolutions achievable. Setting goals that you know you can’t achieve is a recipe for failure.
  3. Set interim goals by the week or by the month. Some things don’t change every hour.

Strategists believe that we can only remember three goals before they get watered down and impossible to implement. With that in mind, here are my three suggestions for resolutions for the New Year:

  1. Get Up Early. By getting up early you might actually have time for a jog around the block or a healthy breakfast instead of the jelly doughnut. The unintended consequence could be losing weight or being healthier. Or, by getting up early you may just be better prepared for the workday.
  2. Finish One Thing. At work, no greater joy exists than completing something, anything. Completion doesn’t need to mean the strategic plan or the computer conversion. It could mean finishing the email to the team or sending that long overdue note of thanks to a customer. The key to turning a day that seems like a nebulous defeat into an ambiguous victory is the sense of accomplishment in finishing something.
  3. Let No Small Things Ruin a Day. It happens every day. It could be a complaint, a spilled coffee, a colleague who shows up late or any number of things that set you off. Stop. Don’t let the small things that run off the rails set the tone for the day. Take a deep breath and look for the dozens of good things that can make for a great day. You deserve it.

And finally in the New Year, consider making lists no longer than three things. In so doing, you will have a year of joy in triplicate at work.

How to Change A Life – Listen

Posted by Richard Moran.

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A man approached me at an airport. I was thousands of miles away from my home.  He introduced himself and asked, “You don’t remember me do you?” I didn’t.

He went on, “Funny how it is, you changed my life and you don’t even remember me. Don’t feel bad. You shouldn’t remember me, but I remember you.” He was at the airport to pick up one of his children. It was just a coincidence that I was arriving.

He told me the story of how we sat next to each other years ago on an airplane from Chicago to San Francisco. I was going home, he was going away. As usual, there was a delay, this time so the plane could be de-iced. What was an already long flight became longer. My seatmate wanted to talk. I didn’t. He was unhappy with his life. I wasn’t. But sometimes a stranger is a good someone to talk to about life topics. The only person who might be better is the friend that knew you when. That friend who remembers who you were when you were twenty-two and can call you on who you are now. Sometimes intimacies are best exchanged with a stranger or that old friend.

So I broke my cardinal rule (at the time) of talking to people on airplanes. Really, I didn’t talk, I only listened. His career was going nowhere. He was in sales for a company that sold industrial kitchen gear. Think pots and pans. He was on the road all the time. His wife was always mad at him and his kids hardly knew him. It took him all of the five-hour flight to tell me all the details of his boss and career and family and I listened.

As we were landing I said, “Sounds like you have two choices: one is to keep at it and be miserable. The other is to make big changes. The second option is more difficult, but if I were you, that is the one I would give serious consideration.” Not rocket science and I am not a counselor but I listened and boiled things down for him. Although we exchanged cards I never expected to connect with him again.

Three months later, a huge box was delivered to my office. A small refrigerator could have been inside. It was a complete set of industrial pots and pans with a note. “Thanks for listening. New, better job and renewed family.”

Now, back in Chicago, years later, I reminded him that I still use the pots and pans he sent years ago. He reminded me that just listening to him and helping him with his options was all it took to change his life.

Sometimes a good listen, even in business, is the way to change a life and maybe an organization.

Author’s Note: For those channeling the movie “Airplanes, Trains, Automobiles” with John Candy and Steve Martin, it’s my favorite movie.

Richard is the author of the new book The Thing About Work: Showing Up and Other Important Matters [A Worker’s Manual]. You can follow his writing on TwitterFacebook, or at his website at richardmoran.com.

Richard is President of Menlo College in Atherton, CA. He is a noted San Francisco based business leader, best-selling author, speaker, and venture capitalist.

The Misery of Update Reminders

Posted by Richard Moran.

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Have you noticed that your devices are always reminding you that updates are available? It is a constant barrage. Do it now? Remind me tomorrow? Stop reminding me is not an option regarding updates. It’s the same on the phone and pretty much everything that we turn on and needs to be recharged. The reminders come from embedded software, apps, people that you hardly know regarding their birthdays and pretty much any icon that hangs around the periphery of the screen.

The reminders are annoying so usually we ignore them even though they are shouting Updates Available! Updates Available! We have all learned the bitter lesson that when we select Update Now, instead of Dismiss, our life is never the same again.

But sometimes we feel guilty and wonder that maybe there is a new feature that will make us more productive.  Or maybe we need to update to be in sync with the rest of the company. Or maybe the old version is going to expire. Forces move us to click on Update. So we click on Install instead of Not Now. And, we immediately regret it. The system shuts down, the lights blink and the timers start broadcasting how much time remains for the install. First, there are thirty seconds remaining, then there is five minutes remaining, then there is two minutes remaining. It’s like a thermometer gone wild. Rebooting, rearranging, re-everything is happening as I hear things whirring and clicking. Sometimes I believe I can smell something burning.

OK, finally. It took ten minutes and the installation is complete. The world should be a better place and I should be a much more productive and efficient person. But wait, the device that is now waking up is not the device we are used to, or so it seems. The new one is not the one we love where the files were in one place and all of our preferences were right there. Everything is in a new place. And we say, never hit Install again, no matter how annoying the reminders.

It’s the small things at work that can make us happy.