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We are near at the beginning of a new year—a perfect time to reflect on the past and set the stage for what lies ahead. It’s that juncture where we evaluate our habits, keeping the ones that serve us well and bidding farewell to those that don’t. The dawn of a new year offers a unique opportunity to redefine ourselves.

As James Clear wisely puts it in his book Atomic Habits*, Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.  With each small decision, we sculpt our identity.

The Power of Choice

Consider this: you are the architect of your life. Every choice, every action, is a step forward along a path. The question is, which direction are you headed in? What kind of journey are you designing? In this blog post, we’ll explore a treasure trove of small actions, habits, and mindsets to optimize how you invest your time.

Here are my top ten personal leadership challenges for the new year.

1. GOALS – Imagine your best life

Imagine if you could design your life as a series of meaningful experiences. Building and exercising our sense of imagination is important. We can practice this by brainstorming 100 goals you’d like to achieve in your lifetime—your very own bucket list. Think about the diverse experiences you could explore, from salsa dancing to bungee jumping, from learning a new language to joining a book club.

Life is an adventure; let your goals reflect that spirit. If you’re struggling to reach a hundred, explore different themes like adventures, hobbies, group goals, and learning experiences. Your imagination is your only limit.

 

2. ATTENTION – Reclaim Your Focus

In today’s world, our attention is a precious commodity. Make this the year you take it back.

Social media, app notifications, and emails can hijack your attention and erode your willpower. Ask yourself: How much time do you spend on your phone? What’s the first thing you do in the morning, or the last thing before bed?  These modern conveniences may seem harmless, but they train our brains to seek distractions rather than focus on what truly matters.

And even moments of boredom can be useful to us. Manoush Zomorodi, in her book Bored and Brilliant*, reveals that our brain shifts toward creative thinking when bored.  Our minds are free to wander and dream, cycling through old memories and reflecting on the present and the future.
As Manoush says, “to think original thoughts, we must put a stop to constant stimulation.”

Rediscover the art of stillness, solitude, and even boredom, where creativity and mental health flourish. Just 25 minutes a day of focused attention can gift you back two years of your life!

 

3. RESILIENCE – Embrace the Difficult

Building resilience is about facing discomfort head-on. A simple way to start is by taking cold showers.  Yes, you read that right!

Cold exposure offers numerous health benefits like improving your immune system and, more importantly, helps you build the capacity to deal with discomfort. Physiological effects of a cold shower include increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and an elevated respiratory rate, all of which can make us feel more alert which creates a sense of invigoration which might even lead to us being more physically active.

As you practice tolerating the cold, you’ll find everyday annoyances losing their grip on you. We practice with cold showers so we can build our courage for the important moments in life that are uncomfortable. Start with just 30 seconds at the end of your regular shower, gradually working your way up to 5-10 minutes. The invigorating feeling will be your reward.

 

4. COURAGE – Embrace Boldness

Eleanor Roosevelt once advised, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Use the courage you’re building from those cold showers to step out of your comfort zone. Create a list of daring moves, whether it’s reaching out to someone you admire, tackling a physical challenge, or trying a new hobby.

Dr Stan Beechman, author of Elite Teams writes that fear is keeping you from reaching your potential. Conquering fear should be your primary goal in life.

What fears do you have?  The more you expose yourself to the things you fear, the less anxious they will make you. If the thought of speaking in public makes your palms sweat and your insides churn, start small by speaking up in a meeting, practice speeches in front of family and friends, and take a public speaking class.

Imagine the worst thing that could happen if you do something that scares you – is it really that bad? If we can nurture ourselves through negative emotions and experiences we open ourselves to growth and expose ourselves to otherwise unforeseen opportunities.

Face your fears and unlock your full potential!

 

5. RELATIONSHIPS – Surround Yourself with Inspiration

Fill your life with people and inputs that inspire you. Start with books and podcasts, then venture into meetups, events, and communities. Invest time in developing the relationships in your life.   Relationships, even just one or two strong ones, have a profound impact on your mental and emotional well-being, and studies have revealed that healthy social relationships can even lengthen our lives!  Invest time in nurturing these connections.

Friendships take time and effort. In the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Jeffrey Hall, professor of Communication Studies, suggested that it’s all about the time we invest. His results showed that it takes 40 to 60 hours to form a casual friendship, 80 to 100 hours to be upgraded to being a friend, and about 200 hours to become “good friends”.

An evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, says the social brain hypothesis that predicts there is a limit to the number of people we can maintain friendships with. We have the capacity to maintain approximately 150 relationships. Considering the time it takes to form friendships and that our available time is finite, make sure the time you invest is well directed.

 

6. GIVING – Be the Change

Our world needs change-makers, and you can be one too.

There are so many ways we can play our part in creating a better world – we can give our money, time, expertise or resources. Stand up for something. Recognise the challenges in our world and do something about it. Get informed. Get together with others and get doing something different because of it.

What’s a cause that ignites your passion that you could donate your time, skills, or resources?  Find an organisation that matters to you and donate your skills for a couple of hours. Maybe you are good at organising and you can help them organise their space, or maybe you have great writing skills and you can help them with their newsletter.

Mahatma Gandhi aptly said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.   Start giving your time and funds to make the world a better place.

 

7. SELF AWARENESS – Start a curiosity journal

Michael Gelb in his book, Think Like Da Vinci explores the habits and rituals of the great Leonardo Da Vinci. In his one short lifetime, Leonardo Da Vinci was creative, a scientist, a town planner and an inventor just to name a few. Da Vinci journaled about everything – his ideas, his learning, his findings and more.

Channel your inner Da Vinci and create your curiosity list. Start by writing down a question that you can ponder in your journal.

  • Am I in the right job or career?
  • How can I use my strengths more everyday?
  • What does love look like to me?
  • How can I be fearless?

Just keep brainstorming questions until you get to 100 – try to do this in one sitting! Then review your list and group them into patterns or similarities. Once you’ve done that, see if you can choose 10 power questions to keep handy when you are journaling.

Da Vinci was far from alone in his habits, Beethoven, Marie Curie and Winston Churchill all journaled to but journaling is no longer considered old fashioned so join the likes of Richard Branson, Oprah and Lady Gaga and get your journaling on!

You can never again have the excuse….but I don’t know what to journal about!

8. STRENGTHS – Hone your superpowers

Your strengths are your superpowers.  Your innate talents combined with your knowledge and skills, creates your strengths. These are your superpowers.

In order to hone your strengths you need to identify what they are. Your true superpowers are those things you truly enjoy doing. You might not be particularly good at doing these things yet, but you feel engaged and satisfied when pursuing them.

Once you identify these practices you enjoy wholeheartedly, just keep doing them and developing them. One of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century once said “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.” Focus on building mastery in your areas of strength. Are you a technical expert, a connector, an entrepreneur, a pace setter? Whatever you are, double down on your areas of strength.

Author George Leonard says in Mastery*“We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try, and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives.”

Mastery is a journey, not a destination.   In what ways, can you keep on the path of your mastery and develop your superpowers this year?

 

9. FOCUS – Break up with complaining

Do you enjoy a good whine? I think everyone does. But how much do you do it everyday? It can be quite surprising how easily we can fall into complaining all the time!  Why not make this the year that you stop complaining!

Will Bowen, author of A Complaint Free World* came up with a simple challenge….“Begin to wear the bracelet on either wrist. When you catch yourself complaining, gossiping, or criticizing, move the bracelet to the other wrist.”   The aim is to keep the bracelet on the same wrist for 21 consecutive days.

He says the average time to break the complaining habit is 4 to 8 months! What a challenge!

Why should we kick the complaining habit? There are many reasons:

  • Complaining induces our stress response which is not good for our brains.
  • Complaining makes it hard to see the possibilities and open our minds.
  • Pessimists report worse physical and mental health than optimists.

This is a great challenge to first be aware of how much you complain and then complete the challenge to erase it from your conversation.

10. VISION – Expand your thinking to the decade ahead!

Instead of thinking about where you want to be and do this year, why not think about where you want to be in 10 years time? What age will you be? What will you be doing? What do you hope you will be doing and what do you want your life to look like?

Commit to the long term. We are a very short term-focused society, our fast developing technology has spoilt us and means we like things instantly. Have you noticed?

Peter Diamandis, author of Bold*, bucks the trend here with his challenge – what’s your 25-year commitment? He says, imagine publicly making a 25 year commitment to something you’re passionate about?

Committing to a long term goal will provide you with an opportunity to keep learning. It will allow you to try things out, make mistakes and figure out what works.  Write your commitment down and stick it on your fridge, your closet door, even in your bathroom. Keep it in the front of your mind and take every opportunity to work toward it.

There is great power in this type of long term thinking to make a greater impact in our lives and in society. So what’s your 25 year commitment?

In Summary

And there you have it—my top ten challenges to help you elevate your life in 2024 and beyond. It’s time to embark on this transformative journey. Are you ready to accept the challenge?

 

Registrations for the Greater Good Collective are now open!

I’m so excited to let you know we have just opened registrations for the Greater Good Collective kicking off in March 2024.

The Greater Good Collective is a transformational 3-month personal leadership program to boost your self awareness, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills in an energising learning environment.

Keen to join me – register here.

The exciting part is that for this special round, I will also facilitate 7 live online sessions for all participants too!  That’s means more interaction, community connection and more motivation to make the most of this program 🙂

The program is for you if…

  • You are looking for time and space to define or redefine who you are
  • You want to connect to your purpose, use your strengths and clarify your values
  • You are over the self doubt and want to live confidently
  • You want to connect with others who want to stretch themselves for the better.

Check out the program brochure to share with your manager! Or reach out to me to see if this program is the right fit for you.

 

 

 

 

 

*Disclosure: We love to promote great resources to support your personal leadership development. This post contains affiliate links which means if you decide to use the links and make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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