If you made a New Year's resolution, forget it.
That seems odd, as many of us are struggling to keep on track with our good intentions for self-improvement. It's even odder since it stems from one of the experts on work-life balance I interviewed last year, whom I asked for a single piece of advice for Globe readers in the coming year.
But as you might expect, that advice from Cathy Lewis, a Florida realtor and life coach, does quickly lead to action that resembles a resolution and, along with the nuggets from the others, may offer inspiration for change in 2015.
Here's there advice:
President of Certified Sisters Inc. and co-author of 7F Words for Living a Balanced Life
Many of us feel compelled to make New Year's Resolutions, simply because of timing, only to lose sight of them before the end of January. The enthusiasm quickly fades because we chose to commit to something we're not passionate about. The rewards simply don't outweigh the necessary effort to see them through.
Instead of a New Year's Resolution, find something you're passionate about and focus on that. If your resolution would have been to lose 10 pounds, find a physical activity that you love to do and commit to doing more of that. Put it on your calendar, keep the date with yourself, and watch the pounds fall off.
Any day you're alive is a great time for a new beginning, so forget the New Year's Resolution and focus on the things that bring you happiness all year round.
Counsellor and blogger for HBR.org
I'm a mom with two babies under two taking time out of the work force. I used to measure my time in accomplishments – big breakthroughs and completed projects. Now time can move slowly and completing a mom's seemingly endless list of menial tasks often feels repetitive and suffocating. But an essay by Glennon Melton recently reminded me to differentiate between two types of time: Chronos (chronological time) and Kairos (opportune moments/God's time).
When your work, marriage or kids pose challenges, look beyond the routine to find opportune moments worth remembering – the feeling of finishing a stellar presentation, a shared smile with a significant other, the smell of your baby's hair. These are the real, more fulfilling realizations of your time.
Life coach and professional organizer, Solomojo Coaching
If the past year has left you breathless, perhaps it is time to liberate yourself from the non-essential. Consider embracing a minimalist practice to obtain satisfaction in 2015.
Determine what you can reduce, such as physical clutter, toxic relationships and attention theft. Get comfortable with saying no.
Align daily actions with intrinsic values. Exercise optimism and be mindful of joyful moments. Downshift weekly to protect your mental, emotional and physical energy. Try a "No Gadget Night" without electronics, and recharge.
Paring down may feel uncomfortable at first; just aim for quality instead of quantity. Then, breathe in the beauty around you and love your life!
Productivity consultant, Clear Concept Inc.
Starting 2015 on a productive note can be as simple as establishing (and maintaining) a central to-do list.
All tasks should be corralled in one central system. We need to stop relying on piles, Post-it Notes and the tempting, yet unreliable "I will remember that" technique. We end up wasting too much time sorting through these disparate tracking systems. Even worse, we may skip the critical review and find ourselves jumping from one squeaky wheel to another.
The central to-do list is a humble, yet powerful tool that helps us to manage our priorities and avoid overcommitting ourselves. With endless opportunities, we need something to keep us focused on our highest-impact tasks. When we have one central list, we are more aware of when we have to say no.
A to-do list also avoids having things slip through the cracks. Even with the best of intentions, things are bound to get missed if we don't write them down.
Finally, a to-do list prompts us to set deadlines and manage turn-around expectations – nipping any looming temptation to procrastinate – in the bud.
Stress/productivity expert and author of Change Your Day, Not Your Life
Ask therapists what they believe the root cause of most stress and anxiety is, and you'll hear it is people trying to control things that lie outside of their control:
– Business leaders feel anxiety about the potential future of their companies.
– Parents stress about actions their children might take.
– People worry what might or might not occur if they fall short of achieving their year's big goals.
These are certainly all valid concerns, but if they are what you focus on daily, you are destined for a challenging road that will likely not lead you to your desired destination. You can hit more of your goals this coming year if you remember that a daily focus on execution beats worrying about outcomes all day, every day.
Vancouver-based business coach
So many of us cite "work-life balance" as the root of our feelings of dissatisfaction or exhaustion, but the way I see it, it's less about balancing work with the rest of our lives, and more about making sure we make time for two essential qualities: Fun and Purpose.
Fun can be work-related or not: It's really anything that energizes us, helps us feel excited and creative. Purpose has a longer-term angle to it: We feel a sense of purpose when we know we're moving towards something that really matters to us. You might think of it as the legacy you want to leave behind.
When we make time for fun and purpose, we have more energy for everything else. That's real, sustainable balance.
Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column, Balance. E-mail email@example.com.