Monday, December 26, 2005

Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

Most people are ready for change, few are ready to change. As the saying goes: "If you fail to plan, plan to fail." And when you're planning here are some principles to keep in mind


Don't confuse reasonable expectations with realistic expectations. Reasonable means "makes sense." Realistic means "likely to happen." It may be reasonable to stop smoking, start a new diet and begin exercising, but it may not be realistic to change all of them at once.

2. SET SPECIFIC GOALS. Most people have a clearer idea of how they want to feel (as in happier, healthier, richer) than they have a clear picture of what things need to be done to get there. You know the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way." The reverse is more often true, i.e. "Where there's a way, there's a will." Have a step-by-step plan for how to achieve your goals.

3. WRITE IT DOWN. You wouldn't build a house without a blueprint, would you? Write down what you need to stop doing and what you need to start doing to reach your goals. Writing down your goals and plans increases your commitment.

4. TELL OTHER PEOPLE. Telling other people you're going to do something increases your commitment. Select people that you respect and admire, and whose respect you would like to receive.

5. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM. Partner with someone who is also trying to keep their New Year's resolutions to increase your dedication. Stopping negative habits and replacing them with positive behavior is easier when you have a buddy system with a good friend or co-worker. Doing New Year's Resolutions with another person reduces the pain of doing without that unhealthy habit you're trying to break.

6. ELIMINATE ENERGY VAMPIRES. One reason you fall off diets and exercise programs is that you need a quick fix every time you deal with negative people or no-win situations. These can be so exhausting that you say "the heck with" your diet or exercise and grab a candy bar or bail on exercising. Find a way to reduce contact with these people and situations and you'll dramatically increase your energy and be able to stay on track.

7. STICK WITH IT. Realize that it takes 30 days for a change in behavior to become a habit (this may explain why they give out 30 day chips for maintaining sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous) and six months for a habit to become a natural part of your personality.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Communication 101, 102, 103, 104

Communication is in the ear…and body language of the beholder.

Never talk over people, rarely talk at them, at the very least talk to them, and try to talk with them.

- Talking over = diatribe

They’ll leave at the earliest opportunity because you’re insulting them by treating them as if they’re not there. They’re thinking: “What a buffoon, I’m outta’ here at the next break.” Never do this.

- Talking at = debate

They feel like you’re sticking your finger in their face. They’ll either: a) hunker down in a submissive pose with their chin tucked into their neck if they’re intimidated. It's as if they’re saying: “Please don’t be angry at me;” or b) they’ll stick their chin out at you and narrow their eyes if they’re ticked off. It's as if they’re saying: “You can’t talk to me like that!” Do this only in a situation such as being in overtime in the seventh game of the NBA finals, your players know you respect them and you need them to execute, not think.

- Talking to = discussion

They’ll nod from the neck up as if to say, “Yes, that makes sense,” and may or may not follow through. This is the language of doing business as usual. Use this as your usual mode of speaking.

- Talking with = dialogue

They’ll relax their shoulders and neck as if you’ve moved over to their side and put your arm around their shoulder like a loving parent or grandparent. It's as if you've told them: “It’ll be okay. We can work this out.” This is the language of intimacy. Aspire to this in matters of the heart and when possible in matters of the world.

From Get Out of Your Own Way at Work… and Help Others Do the Same by Mark Goulston (Putnam, 2005). For more information on Dr. Mark go to: