Whether you spent it dancing the night away with a crowd or enjoying a quiet evening with a few friends, New Year’s Eve is traditionally the time we celebrate the past and look forward to a bright future. Obviously, the world around us does not magically change the moment the clock clicks over to midnight. It’s up to each of us to take the promise a new year brings and use it to make strategic improvements to our lives and our careers.
How do we break rank with the status quo and make those improvements? Here are three ideas to inspire you:
1. Reverse your thinking. It used to be imperative to have a mentor — a seasoned leader who could introduce you to other higher-ups and show you the professional ropes — in order to make it in a new job or industry. While having a good mentor is still a smart move, there’s much to be said for reverse mentoring with a young professional. The next generation will have considerable influence on our organizations, not to mention meetings of the future. You can expand your worldview by getting to know them firsthand.
2. Dance like no one’s watching. That’s just what former Microsoft manager Karen Cheng did when she recorded her attempts to learn how to dance by practicing every day for one year. In reality, lots of people watched — her YouTube video recently went viral with 3.6 million views and counting. We all have skills we wish we could develop, but the thought of working on them might terrify us — which is all the more reason to drop the inhibitions and just put ourselves out there. Maybe you’d like to be a better public speaker, or want to learn how to paint. Whether it applies directly to your job or not, learning and practicing new skills exercises your brain in new ways and builds self-confidence.
3. Power down. Who has ever been slightly annoyed — or, let’s be honest, incredibly irritated — when we’re told we have to turn off our mobile devices as our plane is about to take off or land? Luckily, the FCC has lifted that ban. Even so, I still think it’s a good idea to power down — or take the opportunity to switch from a spreadsheet to a favorite TV show. Being “wired in” to work 24/7 is exhausting. Sure, there are times when taking those extra 15 minutes on the plane to make last-minute changes to your upcoming presentation is a good idea. But if you make a habit of putting down your mobile devices — even if it’s just for a few minutes here and there — you just might be more productive in the end.
Best wishes for a happy and successful 2014.