Change the Way You Act

weary-traveler-1631369_640Welcome back! I hope you had a merry Christmas full of family, friends, and good cheer. I’m actually enjoying a second round of Christmas this week. My parents flew into town last night and are spending the week with us. I anticipate a week of much needed rest before hitting the New Year in stride.

Speaking of the New Year, I promised to share my three personal challenges for 2017. I’ve already laid out the first two – changing the way I think and changing the way I talk, having provided specific ways in which I plan to address each of these goals. Today, I want to explain the third challenge I’ve decided to take on for 2017. It’s to change the way I act.

It’s easy to say you will change the way you think. After all, no one can read your mind and see the actual thoughts swirling around your brain. And it’s only slightly less difficult to change the way you talk. Despite the occasional slip of the tongue, choosing to say “the right thing” comes easy for a lot of us. After all, words are cheap, right?

But changing the way you act is something altogether different. It is through our actions that we are defined. I’ve known plenty of people who acted in ways that seemed remarkably different than the way they spoke. Many of us act in ways that run counter even to what we believe to be best. Actions can betray not only our words, but our thoughts as well. So I’ve chosen some specific ways in which to try and tame my own behavior.

I’m going to try and act with intention. I’m one of those people that like to say “yes.” I like being viewed as a go-to resource, someone who can get the job done. But saying “yes” too often gets a lot of people in trouble. Taking on too much can put you in a position where you’re running behind and trying to please a lot of others people while still trying to get your own work done. In the end, you wind up short-changing everything. No one project gets your best effort and no one, including yourself, is blown away by the result.

To combat this trend, I’m challenging myself to be more purposeful about my actions. When I take something on, I want it to be intentional. It needs to be something I believe in and will commit to owning. I want to execute. It may upset a few people that I have to say “no” to, but then they wouldn’t be happy with a lackluster effort anyway. I’ll be happier with myself having committed to only those projects I believe in.

I’m going to try and act with passion. Having ideally pared down the number of commitments I’ve made, I should be able to approach each one with a lot more gusto. You know that feeling you get when you’re working on something and just know deep down that you’re doing your best work? Time seems to slip away because you get caught up in doing the very best job you can. That’s the feeling I’m going to shoot for. I want work I can be proud of. That means I can’t allow myself to “dial it in.” If I’m in it, I’m in it to win it.

I’m going to try and act with focus. I can’t do my best work with a lot of distraction. Multi-tasking has been scientifically proven to reduce productivity, and I know it’s been killing me. So that’s got to stop. Likewise, interruptions pull me out of “the zone” and make it that much harder to get back in the swing of things. So I’m going to have to block out chunks of time to focus my energy on specific tasks knowing that the end result will be better having done so.

Now, I’ve shared my three personal challenges with you for a couple of reasons. Obviously, I feel this is a good practice and I want to encourage you to identify a couple of challenges for yourself. If I’ve hit a chord with my challenges, feel free to adopt them and join me on this quest. Regardless, write down specific things you want to improve on in 2017. I write mine on sticky notes and post them on my bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.

I also invite you to hold me accountable. Accountability is something of a lost art these days. People didn’t always feel so free to make promises knowing they could ignore them or weasel their way out at some point. I thinks that’s a shame. So, ask me from time to time how I’m holding up against my personal challenges. If you feel so bold, share your 2017 goals with me. I’ll be your accountability partner if you’ll be mine.

Let’s make 2017 the very best it can be. The New Year is blank canvas, just waiting for us to make our mark. What do you say we make it a great one?


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