Welcome to 2015

 

It’s the time of the year to contemplate what happened last year,  predict what will happen this year, make your resolutions and plans. Here’s my take on the retrospectives, predictions and resolutions I’ve found around the web.

Restrospectives

If we are what we search, then Google has the answer.

The lead stories include some interesting conclusions; apparently we’re optimistic, searching for “MH370 found” 14 times more often than “MH370 lost”.

Other sites focused on images of the year, Time produced their top 10 images, while CNN could only limit itself to 147 – it’s a sobering look back at the year with shocking photos of thousand of Syrian refugees, Gaza, riots, ebola victims, Boko Haram and ISIS. It’s been a tough year. There were some positives; Malala Yousafzai, a child rescue, Rosetta the comet.

Predictions

There’s always a danger in making predictions, particularly as this is the year we were supposed to be getting hoverboards according to the movie “Back to the Future”.

For some digitally relevant predictions

  • Econsultancy sees advances in online sales, increase in apps and mobile, and the rise of analytics.
  • V8 predicts the rise of analytics and the downfall of smart watches.
  • Social Media Examiner thinks that video will be the content format of choice (I’ve heard this before, many times, maybe this time it will be right), growth in slideshare for business and there’s a rise in niche social networks.

Resolutions

The other tradition at New Year is the “New Year’s Resolution”, that promise you make to yourself to improve your life. Apparently the most common relate to weight loss, saving money, quit smoking, and falling in love. Apparently only 8% of people keep their resolutions.

You can increase the chances of keeping any resolutions you do make by picking realistic goals, and by taking small steps that keep you motivated. The Greatist has some great ideas for inspiring wording of a resolution you can stick to.

Personally I don’t wait until New Year to make resolutions, if I want to change something I start working on it right away, and I aim for incremental, sustainable change. But this year I’ve taken the chance to affirm two professional resolutions I’m working on, and one personal one. I’m not going to list them here – it turns out disclosing your goals tricks your mind into thinking you’re going to succeed and you don’t try so hard as Derek Sivers explains in this TED talk.

So here’s to a fun year, welcome to 2015!

 

image fireworks

Keeping those New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Are you keeping them? This time of the year there are a dozen articles on how to keep your New Year’s resolution, the ads on TV are swamped with offers from gyms and diet companies.

The most common resolutions include; losing weight, exercising, and saving money. All good things but it seems to be very hard to stick to them – even though we know that it’d be good for us. Fortunately there’s lots of advice on how to stick to resolutions, and tools and apps to help us.

One of the most common pieces of advice is to share your goals with friends and family members who will support you. But there is research around that suggests the social acknowledgement of your planned goal is enough to trick your brain into thinking something has already been achieved. Here’s a TED talk explaining more.

Whether that’s how your brain works or not all the advice on keeping your resolutions says that you have to make it a habit, and that means doing something pretty much every day for at least 30 days.

One site offers a cool way to track your progress over 100 days, Give it 100 was founded by Karen Cheng, the woman behind “dance in a year”. The site allows you to upload a short video each day showing how far you’ve come. Lots of people are using it to document their efforts to lose weight or to exercise, and some people are showing their progress at learning a new skill. My favourite of these is skels who is learning to unicycle, it’s such a joyful thing to learn, and she’s doing really well.

That’s another secret to making and keeping resolutions, think less about what you should do, and more about what makes you happy.  Pick something that you actually like doing, and build on that.

Lego Image New Years Resolutions (1/52) / CC BY 2.0

Cyclist Image screenshot from give it 100 website

New Years Resolutions

Welcome to 2012

I know we’re halfway through January but I’ve had a slow start to the year with a long break visiting family and friends on the other side of the world.

So here I am on my first post of the year, and I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. There was a flurry of posts on this subject from Christmas until about 5 January including a timely reminder from HBR that some resolutions might be about stopping ineffective behaviour at work, and the advertising to join a gym/lose weight/stop smoking and generally improve your life has escalated. But it was a quiet comment from a colleague I respect that inspired me to write this.

“I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions,” she said “you can decide any day of the year to make a change in your life”.

I don’t do resolutions either, but there is something healthy about taking some time to look back at what you’ve achieved, and what you’d like to improve and the end of year seems a natural moment to do that. However natural it is to translate that into resolutions it seems we’re not good at keeping them.

Around half of those who set resolutions succeed in keeping them occasionally, only 8% always keep them, compared with 24% who never keep them according to Daily Infographic.

So what goes wrong? Well, we’re too ambitious, making resolutions that are “significantly unrealistic”, according to Psychology Today. We’ll also think that solving one issue – reducing debt or exercising more – will fix our whole life and then then become discouraged when that turns out not to be the case.

There is plenty of advice all over the internet on how to improve your chances of keeping your resolutions the most common items are; focus on one goal, make it specific, make it measurable, take it in small steps, celebrate success – and laugh at failure.

Psychology Today’s list also reflects the advice of my wise colleague “Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day”

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Image New Year Mosaic 2008 /maplemama/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

New Year’s Resolutions

What do I want to be different in 2010? I don’t make big “resolutions”, my world view is that life is a journey so you can take a step forward, or backward or change direction on any day. But the new year is a great opportunity to reflect on whether  I’m still heading somewhere I want to go, and determine whether some adjustments are needed.

Work

  • More balance in which goals I focus on, in 2009 I was very absorbed with one big goal, in 2010 I need to spread my time across all the goals of my team more evenly.
  • Learn more about communications, online communications, managing technology, managing other people and managing “up”. The first four of these area a continuation of what I’ve been learning for years, I know I like these subjects. The last one is more difficult for me, I know I need to “work the politics” more, and make sure I have buy-in before acting. I’m getting better – but it’s still a learning point for me. Mind you, having a manager who knows the online world is helping me a lot!
  • Keep delivering, I want to deliver more smaller results this year. This means better planning and speeding up our development cycle. We’re in a good position to do this in 2010.
  • More fun with my team, we’ve had a tough year, and 2010 will also be extremely busy as our company goes through a lot of change. I’m lucky to have a great team to work with, but I need to find some more ways to pull us together throughout the year.

Personal

  • More Writing, I started working on this blog seriously at the beginning of 2009, that’s going to continue, but I want to try more fiction writing. So short stories for a creative writing course, and another attempt at NaNoWriMo.
  • Learn to rollerblade, I’ve had such fun trying to ice-skate I’ve decided that the fun should continue in summer.
  • Travel somewhere I’ve never been before, I have two cities on my must see list; Istanbul and St Petersburg. But I’m also thinking about India, an online friend lives there and the superb photos she posts have got me inspired. She posted about the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which led me to look up Ganesh (pictured above). He’s worshipped as the god of education, knowledge and wisdom. He’s also the destroyer of obstacles, sounds like a handy guy to know.

image Ganesh 2009 /Pranav Yaddanapudi/ CC BY 2.0